The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 12 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Guided tour promises safer Dalma trip

Next time you’re in Dalma to spot elephants, make good use of the guides who will be there to steer you through the wildlife sanctuary and ensure you don’t have unpleasant run-ins with animals.

For, the Ranchi wildlife division, which looks after the sanctuary, has decided to engage local villagers, preferably youths from the Makulakocha, Kadamjore and Kathjore areas, as guides.

Kamlesh Kumar Pandey, divisional forest officer of the division, said the system came into effect from Monday. From now on, it would be mandatory for tourists visiting Dalma in four-wheelers to pick up a guide from Makulakocha — the entrance to the sanctuary — for a paltry payment of Rs 100.

The new regulations were, however, not binding on visitors on two-wheelers.

The DFO pointed out that entering an area populated by tuskers could always turn out to be dangerous. “If accompanied by a guide, the tourists will feel safer in moving around Dalma. In the event of coming across wild elephants, the guide can help them escape,” Pandey told The Telegraph.

The role of guides was, however, not restricted to ensuring safety. “Besides helping out during an emergencies, a guide can improve the sightseeing experience of tourists. By using a guide, the tourists will also be helping unemployed villagers earn a living,” the senior forest officer said.

Spread over 192sq km, Dalma has gained immense popularity as a tourist destination over the last few years. Though the number of tourists tends to go down in summer, winter and spring see heavy footfall of nature lovers from Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand.

According to statistics available with the sanctuary, over 22,000 tourists visited Dalma in 2012. Though a considerable number of the visitors were from Jamshedpur and surrounding areas who came on two-wheelers, most were from neighbouring states who came in cars and SUVs.

“Encouraged by the increase in tourist flow, we decided to start a system which would benefit the tourists and villagers alike,” a senior forest officer said.

According to him, as of now, the sanctuary already had a list of 20 youths, who were ready to act as guides to the sanctuary. But, Dalma is waiting for more volunteers.