In 2008, Rasila Vadher shot to limelight by becoming the first woman forest guard in Gujarat's Gir National Park. Since then, Ms Vadher has displayed exemplary courage and a love for wildlife which led to her promotion to the head of Gir's rescue department. On World Lion Day, the story of this lion queen, as she is known, has captivated social media once again.
According to The Better India, in 2007, Gujarat became the first Indian state to employ women in its forest department by creating a 33% quota for them. Dubbed the "Lion Queens of India", this all-women team grew and won accolades for their role in the protection of Gir's big cats.
The women guards not only rescue injured big cats, they also look after orphaned animals and take on the menace of poaching.
Rasila Vadher has been involved in more than 1,100 animal rescues since her appointment. Along with Kiran Pithiya and Darshana Kagada, she was also the subject of a 2015 Animal Planet documentary called 'The Lion Queens of India'.
Indian Forest Services officer Parveen Kaswan took to Twitter on World Lion Day to share a post of appreciation for Ms Vadher. "Rescuing wildlife from wells to controlling them, she walks in jungle more confidently than even lion king," he wrote.
Meet Rasila Vadher of 36, a #Forester at Gir who has been involved in more than 1000 animal rescues including 300 Lions, 500 Leopards, crocodiles & pythons. Rescuing wildlife from wells to controlling them, she walks in jungle more confidently than even lion king. #WorldLionDaypic.twitter.com/YfrOo0gMyG— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) August 10, 2020
Last year, the Chief Minister Office, Government of Gujarat, had also praised the work of Ms Vadher. "Meet Rasila Vadher, the 1st woman who was given an opportunity to guard Gir National Park by Forests & Environment Dept of Gujarat Govt, has rescued over 1100 wild animals with exemplary courage and is now head of Gir's Rescue Dept. Salute to her dedication and love for wildlife," CMO Gujarat wrote in a tweet, sharing four photos of Gir's first forest guard.
Meet Rasila Vadher, the 1st woman who was given an opportunity to guard Gir National Park by Forests & Environment Dept of Gujarat Govt, has rescued over 1100 wild animals with exemplary courage and is now head of Gir's Rescue Dept. Salute to her dedication and love for wildlife pic.twitter.com/cnOIDHelKW— CMO Gujarat (@CMOGuj) June 19, 2019
In 2016, Ms Vadher had spoken about making a mark in a male-dominated field, saying that nobody in the department had initially supported her request to move to the front line.
"They said, 'She's a woman, how can she work with lions, leopards and other wild animals'," she told Friday Magazine.
"I decided that being a woman, I needed to work like a man. And if I work like a man, no-one will doubt me. So when I'm working, they do not look at me as a woman. Out in the field I've proved myself their equal. And now they acknowledge, yes, a woman can do this work."
The Gir forest is the last abode of the Asiatic lion in the world. In June this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the population of lions in Gir had increased, and so had their distribution area. It is now home to over 600 lions.Click for more trending news