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Dalma guides go dapper

- Three dozen elephant sanctuary staff to don olive fatigues, boots from tomorrow

The next time you make a trip to the enchanting Dalma Hills, expect smarter hospitality.

Come Saturday, the forest department will distribute uniforms among the 34-odd tourist guides and trackers at one of Jharkhand’s most visited wildlife sanctuaries located along NH-33 on the outskirts of Jamshedpur.

Ranchi DFO (wildlife) Kamlesh Pandey, who also heads management at Dalma, on Thursday said they had tied up with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) to sponsor the casually chic dress kits, which will contain olive, jungle-printed fatigues, caps and black hunter shoes.

More than a week ago, Palkot Wildlife Sanctuary in Gumla was the first animal habitat in the state where uniforms were introduced for guides. The fatigues for Palkot were grey.

“Eco-tourism is all about doing simple things in an organised manner. Compared to other parks and sanctuaries in the state, Dalma draws more tourists round the year. Hence, our objective is to continue improving amenities and become more and more visitor-friendly,” Pandey said.

He added that if resources permitted, Dalma’s staff — who are either trained village youths or members of local ecological development committees — would each receive a spare set of uniform and shoes.

Sprawling 195sqkm along the Ranchi-Jamshepdur highway, the Dalma sanctuary is an ideal weekend getaway that offers wilderness, adventure and serenity at the same time. Besides elephant-spotting, visitors can seek blessings at the hilltop temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, explore virgin forest trails, bask in the sun near watering holes at Majhlabandh, Nichlabandh, Chhotkabandh and Badkabandh, learn about wildlife at the museum and take a trip to the adjoining deer enclosure.

Two guesthouses at Makulakocha and Pinderbera offer relaxing nights. In addition to these, Pandey said four new cottages, with all modern amenities, were awaiting inauguration. A revamped kitchen also debuted recently to dish out delicacies, while a refreshment kiosk at Makulakocha has been inviting tourists for five months now.

“The uniform drive will be a pleasant surprise. Our guides will make an impression at the first sight,” said the DFO.

Each of the 10 tourist guides can be booked for Rs 100 a day. “The earnings go to local villagers. Compared to a year ago, Dalma guides have become more polished now, as we hold meetings and workshops on a regular basis. The formal wear will make them more confident and add a dash of style to their hospitality skills,” Pandey summed it up.