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Conservationists In India

Some people choose to follow their heart, notwithstanding the pressure from their families, society, and the government. They fought relentlessly for the conservation of Indian Wildlife. We dedicate this section to few such stalwarts who spent their lifetime nurturing nature in India.

Conservationists In India

Conservationists In India - Billy Arjan Singh

Billy Arjan Singh | 1917 – 2010

Billy Arjan Singh was an Indian hunter-turned author and conservationist in India. He was the first who tried to reintroduce tigers and leopards from captivity into the wild. Kunwar Billy Arjan Singh was born in Gorakhpur and in 1940, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the British Indian Army.

He was posted to the south of Iraq but on his return to India he purchased a farm in the remote district of a Lakhimpur Kheri and built himself a home. He settled down to a life of farming and hunting. Nearly ten years later, he also acquired an estate on the borders of the forestry reserve at Dudhwa. This came to be known as Tiger Haven and it was here that he lived most of his life.

James Edward Corbett
James Edward Corbett | 1875 – 1955

Sir Jim Corbett was born in Nainital, Kumaon district of Uttarakhand on July 25th, 1875. He grew up in a large family of 13 children and was the eighth child to his parents, William Christopher and Mary Jane Corbett. From a very young age, Jim was fascinated by the forests and wildlife around his home in Kaladhungi, he went on to become one of the greatest conservationists in India. It was then that he grew an interest in animals, and identified most of them, including birds, just by their calls.

This turned him into an excellent tracker and hunter. Corbett held the rank of Colonel in the British Indian Army and was frequently called upon by the Government of the United Provinces, now the Indian States of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, to kill…

Frederick Walter Champion
Frederick Walter Champion | 1893 – 1970

Frederick Walter Champion, born on August 24th, 1893, in the UK, was a British forester, who worked in British India and East Africa. In the UK and India, he became famous in the 1920s as one of the first wildlife photographers and conservationists in India. Champion grew up in a family of nature lovers.

His father was the English entomologist George Charles Champion, while his brother, Sir Harry George Champion was also a forester, known for classifying the forest types in India. He travelled to India in the year 1913 and served the Police Department of East Bengal until 1916, after which he was commissioned into the British India Army Reserve of Officers.

Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi | 1917 – 1984

When Mrs. Gandhi came to power as India’s prime Minister in the year 1966, wildlife was in a crisis. Post independence, swathes of prime forests had been cleared to settle partition refugees in the Terai, and other regions. As a new India was being born, natural habitats were completely destroyed to make way for mines, dams, real estate, infrastructure and industrial projects.

Wild animals were being ruthlessly- a sitting target for anyone with a gun. Tigers were the prized trophy, with big game hunting safaris organized for “dollar” tourists. Trade in tiger skin was rampant, including in Delhi’s…

Kailash Sankhla
Kailash Sankhala | 1925 – 1994

Kailash Sankhala was an Indian naturalist and conservationist. He first started his journey with The Forest Service in 1953 and managed wildlife sanctuaries in Sariska, Bharatpur, Banvihar and Ranthambore. In the year 1965, Sankhala was appointed as the Director of the Delhi Zoological Park.

For five years Sankhala served as head of the zoo, where his firmly held views on what zoos should be initially aroused anger, and later admiration. In 1973 he was appointed head of Project Tiger, an attempt to save the Indian tiger from extinction. He had confrontations too with the Indian tourist establishment, and with the poachers who wished…

MK Ranjitsinh
MK Ranjitsinh | 1939 – present

In the history of wildlife conservation in India, MK Ranjitsinh stands out as a prominent figure. He joined the Indian Administrative Services in 1961 and in 1967 was posted to Mandla, Madhya Pradesh, where he helped save the central Indian Barasingha from extinction. Having served as the collector in Mandla, he was later appointed as the secretary of forest and tourism in the Madhya Pradesh state government.

During this appointment, Ranjitsinh established 14 new sanctuaries, eight new national parks, and doubled the area of three existing national parks. He served as the country’s first director of wildlife preservation under the environment…

Salim Ali
Dr. Salim Ali | 1896 – 1987

Salim Ali is the pioneer and outlier, in Ornithological studies in India. His extensive fieldwork, surveys, and observations therein have provided the world with invaluable information about the Indian Wildlife landscape and the knowledge and habitat of birds in the Indian Subcontinent. He was born in 1896 in Bombay, and lost both his parents by the age of 3.

Raised by his maternal Uncle Amiruddin Tyabji and aunt Hamida Begum. At an early age, he was fascinated by books on shikar – hunting, and was encouraged by his uncle to pursue some sport hunting, through an expensive air gun known as a “Daisy Gun”, gifted to him. There were lots of bird around Bombay at the time, and it was during this period…

Dunbar Brander

A.A. Dunbar Brander | 1877

Not much of information is available of this great conservationist of India, not even his photograph. Born to British parents in April 1877 to James Brander and Alice Grant. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (F.R.G.S) and Fellow of the Zoological Society of London (F.Z.S.).

He spent twenty one years in the central provinces of India during his Forest Services. Out of these two decades, most of his time was spent in Kanha National Park. Foresters of those years spent time under a canvas from November till April in the forests….

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