The Lion Queen: A Book Celebrating The Life Of India's First Female Forest Guard

The Lion Queen
The Lion Queen L: Tara Anand R: The Economic Times

In the heart of India's Gir Forest, where the majestic Asiatic lions roam, a remarkable woman named Rasila Vadher emerged as a symbol of courage and dedication. In 2007, Rasila Vadher made history by becoming the first female forest guard in Gujarat's Gir National Park. Her appointment marked a significant milestone in the conservation efforts of the Asiatic lions, as she fearlessly stepped into a male-dominated field.

Rasila Vadher's courage knows no bounds. Over the years, she has been involved in over 1,100 animal rescues, including more than 300 lions, 500 leopards, crocodiles, and pythons. Her dedication and fearlessness in the face of danger have earned her universal praise. Since her entry into the field of conservation, Ms Vadher has displayed exemplary courage and a love for wildlife which earned her promotion to the head of Gir's Rescue department.

Rasila Vadher posing in front of three wild lions in Gir Forest
Rasila Vadher posing in front of three wild lions in Gir ForestNDTV

From rescuing wildlife from wells to controlling them, she walks in the jungle more confidently than even a lion king.

Parveen Kaswan, Indian Forest Services officer, tweeted on World Lion Day in 2020 to show his appreciation for Ms. Vadher

Rasila Vadher nursing a cub
Rasila Vadher nursing a cubThe Economic Times

Rasila Vadher's career has not been without obstacles. She recounts instances during the early days of her career where she faced doubts and resistance from the forest department due to her sex. However, through hard work and dedication, she proved herself equally capable, if not more, than her male counterparts. Her story serves as an inspiration for breaking gender barriers and challenging societal norms.

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Rasila Vadher's achievements led to a snowball effect ushering in an era of change. Inspired by her prowess and dedication, the Gujarat government took the initiative to employ women in its forest department, creating a 33% quota. This groundbreaking move led to the formation of an all-women team known as the 'Lion Queens of India'. This remarkable team of 43 women,12 of whom were stationed in Gir including Rasila Vadher, played a pivotal role in protecting Gir's big cats, rescuing injured animals, caring for orphaned creatures, and combating the menace of poaching.

Lion Queens of India
Lion Queens of IndiaVikalp Sangam

Rasila Vadher’s story is thoroughly inspiring. To commemorate her journey and to bring to life her adrenaline-pumping life, there is an upcoming beautifully illustrated book, titled The Lion Queen, published by Cameron Kids, authored by children's book author, Rina Singh and illustrated by renowned Bombay-based visual artist Tara Anand. The book takes readers on a journey of empowerment, as it begins with a mother telling her fearless little girl “Never look a lion in the eyes,”. The girl learns all about the rare Asiatic lions during a field trip to Gir Forest and on that fateful day, she falls in love with lions and envisions her future career.

A page from the upcoming book 'The Lion Queen'
A page from the upcoming book 'The Lion Queen'Tara Anand

Inspired by Rasila Vadher's real-life experiences, the girl dreams of caring for these magnificent creatures. But can a girl have such a brave dream? In spite of several adversities, a loud roar gnarles inside the little girl’s heart, propelling her to achieve her dream. As you traverse through the pages of the book, you will embark of the little girl's journey to realizing her dream; coming face-to-face with a lion for the first time, becoming a the first woman forest guard in India, cruising on her motorbike looking out for poachers, finding new pugmarks and animal carcasses as that signals a big cat in the vicinity, and so much more. At the core of the book lies the importance of following one's dreams, no matter what.

A page from the upcoming book 'The Lion Queen'
A page from the upcoming book 'The Lion Queen'Tara Anand
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If you are over-excited (like me) and cannot hold your horses till the release of the book, you can pre-order it here.

Follow the publishing house, Cameron Books here.

Follow the illustrator, Tara Anand here.

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