While SUJÁN, through its three sumptuous and award-winning tented camps, lets you soak in the simple luxuries of life that find roots in natural and cultural heritage, its efficacy in contributing to the wildlife conservation, community development, and sustainability knows no bound either. By Sushmita Srivastav
If there’s one takeaway from the pandemic situation that the entire world is looking (and nodding) at right now, it is the fact that adopting sustainable practices is the only way forward. While for many in the tourism industry, sustainability deemed as just another trend until very recently, there are a few for whom it has always been the priority. For instance, SUJÁN, an experiential and responsible boutique hospitality group, had created a conservation model some 20 years ago and has been adhering to sustainable eco-tourism ever since. The legacy of protecting the wildlife through filming, monitoring, researching, and creating awareness has been passed down the generations in the SUJÁN family.
For SUJÁN, conservation comes first—the family’s philanthropic wing, the SNS Foundation, has been working tirelessly to create social impact among rural communities, with an aim of achieving economic self-reliance and co-existing harmoniously with the environment, ever since it was established in 1976.
Founder Jaisal Singh and his wife Anjali have continued the family’s legacy of conservation through the creation of SUJÁN by introducing proven sustainable tourism models by opening ethically sound, authentic experiences in unique areas of pristine wilderness, which benefit local communities as well as play a role in preserving indigenous wildlife and their habitats.
The brand’s Free Primary Healthcare initiative has been providing free-of-cost mobile medical services in five nearby villages to SUJÁN JAWAI for two years now. This includes donating a medical van, fully-equipped, stocked with medicines, and accompanied by a driver, doctor, and nurse who work five days a week. During this trying time, the mobile medical unit, with the support of the local government health authorities in the Pali district, has been helping in stemming the spread of novel Coronavirus. Hitherto, SUJÁN has donated 30,000 protective masks to the state government and has contributed approximately US $50,000 (INR37,84,000) to the chief minister’s COVID relief fund.
SUJÁN has also adopted nine schools in Jawai (plus four more in the state), educating 5,670 students in total. The aim is to make it a total of 10 schools, one for each tent in SUJÁN JAWAI, by the end of the year. Add to this The SUJÁN Adult Literacy Programme that has enrolled 75 women (aged between 17 and 45 years) to make them efficient in reading and writing in its first year of inception. Young, local villagers are also being trained for adapting best of conservation tourism practices, under their Tracker Programme.
The Rewilding Programme at SUJÁN JAWAI focuses on returning farmlands back to the wilderness, and the native farmers are always keen on helping. SUJÁN not only pays fixed monthly rents directly to these small landholders or their families (regardless of change in season or occupancy) when they offer their pieces of land for the rewilding process, but also helps them find alternative lands to continue farming. The guests are also included in this beautiful project as SUJÁN charges each guest with a small conservation contribution fee, which is used to cover expenses related to the Rewilding Programme, like the monthly rents paid to farmers. These ‘connecting’ pieces of land together act as safe wildlife corridors in the region.
SUJÁN also employs teams of local trackers from the nearby villages to assist the Field Team at camp with their work. According to their Positive Impact Report of 2019, a total area of 52 square kilometres of wilderness has been protected and approximately 150 acres of farmland has been reforested.
SUJÁN Sher Bagh is a partner and the primary donor, providing financial support and resources to conservation partners such as Tiger Watch, a Non-Governmental Organisation, and their Village Wildlife Volunteers Programme. This is a group of individuals drawn from villages along the periphery of, or in close proximity to, the boundaries of the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve.
The primary task of the Village Wildlife Volunteers (VWV) is to provide information about the movement of wildlife, particularly endangered species like the tiger, leopard, bear, and more. Additionally, they provide crucial information about poaching and other illegal activities such as mining and logging. They also have an ancillary role in helping with scientic data collection. The volunteers act as representatives and ambassadors for wildlife in their respective villages, and play a critical role in ensuring the cooperation of other villagers. With our conservation partners and government agencies, SUJÁN prides itself as a guardian of Ranthambore, the natural and cultural heritage of Rajasthan.
SUJÁN The Serai, on the other hand, has a successful record of protecting and reviving the culture and folk music of the Manganiyar tribe of musicians in The Great Thar Desert for 10 years now. The family had first recorded the stirring music of the Manganiyars some half a century back, and has been providing them with a ready system of patronage since.