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Sita in Chitwan National Park!

Sita is in Chitwan National Park in Nepal!

As big as 1,78,000 football fields, Nepal’s first protected national park is home to over 550 species of birds; awe-inspiring animals, such as greater one-horned rhinoceroses, Bengal tigers, clouded leopards; and a confident, brave girl called Sita.

Sita dreams of being a nature guide like her baba. With a spring in her step and a group of eager tourists, she unravels the secrets of the forest. But when she wanders astray and comes face to face with a mamma rhino, will this eight-year-old be able to listen to the stillness of the jungle?

Join Sita in Chitwan National Park, a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site!

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There were no female nature guides in Nepal until one woman challenged herself to do something that no woman had.

Meet Doma Paudel, the first female nature guide in Chitwan.

Sita: Hi Doma! I am sure everyone is excited to learn that there is a real-life me! Tell me more about yourself, Doma.

Doma: I was twenty-three years old when I became the first female nature guide in Chitwan, Nepal in 2007. In 2012, I founded Nepal Dynamic Eco Tours to promote sustainable ecotourism. I support wildlife victims and conduct awareness programs on forest conservation. There is always something that keeps me busy.

Front cover of Sita's Chitwan
Siuta’s Chitwan || Vaishali Shroff (Author), Kalp Sanghvi (Illustrator)

Sita: Wow! You wear many hats, Doma! My baba inspired me to become a nature guide. Who inspired you?

Doma: My family’s house in Sauraha is along the border of CNP. Elephants destroyed our bamboo and grass house a few times. Rhinos, deer and wild boars ate our crops. Once, a sloth bear attacked my father. Coming from a poor family, it was hard to recover from these losses. In 2004, we lost our beloved mother to an unexpected rhino attack; she had gone to the forest to collect firewood for the house. But I still love animals and forests.

My  mother  treated  me  no different  than  my  brothers.  She always  encouraged  me  to  follow  my  heart  and  step  out  to  do something for society. In school, I was part of the Green Club and participated in plantation and garbage collection events. That’s where my journey to be a nature guide began and I never looked back.

Sita:  Did you have to undergo special training to become a nature guide?

Doma:  I received training from lots of places including the National Trust of Nature Conservation. I learnt the history of Nepal and Chitwan National Park, the protected areas, all about animal behaviour, safety rules, hospitality, culture, responsible tourism and a lot more!

I was the only female among twenty-five male guides. No one wanted to go with me into the forest because they thought I was not  strong  enough  to  protect  tourists  and  other  guides  from wild animals. But I did not give up. On the first three-day walk I was assigned, a rhino charged at us. I used all my knowledge and training to protect my guests from the rhino. Since that day, everyone knows me as ‘the one who is not afraid’!

Sita: That’s incredible! I once saved a tourist from a rhino attack too! What does a day in the life of Doma Paudel look like?

Doma:  A nature guide’s life is full of excitement, adventure, challenges and risks. In peak season, I am at my office by 6 a.m., planning safaris and tours for our tourists over cups of tea. My guides and I show Chitwan’s beauty and wildlife to our tourists and the last safari ends by 5.30 p.m.  At 6 p.m., all of us get together to share our day’s encounters and stories. No two days in the forest are the same and that’s the most exciting part of my job. When  there  are  no  tourists,  I  organize  events  to  raise  awareness  on conservation efforts  and  the  participation  of  women  in  conservation among our communities and schools. We also visit other national parks to constantly update ourselves.

Sita: What do you love about your job?

Doma: I love that I get to be in the midst of nature and wildlife all the time.  I learn something new about the forest every day.  Just like you, I love meeting new people from different parts of the world, Sita. It’s a very special feeling to know that you have taken more and more people closer to nature and made them feel more empathetic towards nature and its biodiversity. I am an ambassador of nature and proud to have inspired many women to become nature guides and make families believe that it’s not just a man’s job. And I don’t miss a chance to meditate in the forest—it’s the best place to do so!

Sita: Thank you, Doma. You inspire me to not give up on my dream!

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