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The Guardian of Jungle 

Anu Jain

She is a fear among the jungle mafia. She is a warrior for the forest. Meet Kandoni Soren, a home guard with the Jamshedpur Police who is now known as the face of the protection of the jungle and its people.

Hailing from the Moosabani block of East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand state, Kondani has a team of around 3 dozen women who assists her in patrolling and taking care of the jungle in her areas. Her birthplace of Sarakgutu village is also located in the same region. 

The team of women who are always on alert against poachers and people who illegally cut trees from the forests. Felling of the forest by the jungle mafia was a major problem in the area till Kondani and her team took over the responsibility to combat it.

The approach of Soren and her team is not just to combat the illegal activities. They organise major initiatives to spread awareness about the richness of the forests and also lead plantation drives in the region. Her area of guarding the forest area along with her team extends to around 250 acres. They are always armed with their traditional indigenous weapons and they don’t use firearms and their expertise in fighting the trespassers is a major matter of fear for the illegal forest cutters. Her work in the region began in the year 2010 and it continues till date unabated. 

There are occasions when official duties warrant Soren to go to distant places as part of posting but she still maintains her team of women who protect the forests in their native place in the Moosabani area. Her love for her forest of birth has also won her global acclamation and several recognitions. 

Her work has earned her the moniker ‘Jungle ki Sherni meaning tigress of the forests’ among the locals. Playing around in the forests and befriending the wild animals has been a favourite pastime for Soren since childhood. Even before she earned a government job, she along with her friends formed the  ‘Van Raksha Samiti’ along with the active participation of other village women. Their favourite routine involved rushing to the spot when they got information on felling of trees. Kandoni believes society cannot afford to be dependent only on the government to protect the environment because a strong nexus sometimes works between the administration and the jungle mafia. 

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