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Special Sanctuary Tiger Awards 2017

Special Sanctuary Tiger Awards 2017

Unrelenting forest officers, persistent community members, brave foot soldiers

Rajveer Singh Rajawat

Rajveer Singh is an unsung hero who has spent 26 years in service of protecting Rajasthan’s Ranthambore National Park. He has played a pivotal role in helping the Forest Department arrest some of the most notorious poachers operating in and around the park. What is more, he has also aided the Ranthambhore wildlife staff in rescuing straying wild animals in dangerous situations. His critical help ended up rescuing 18 tigers, 21 leopards, 16 bears, 14 hyaenas, two pangolins and hundreds of other animals in different districts of Rajasthan. Even more heartening, he has been able to help improve the relationship of local communities with the Forest Department and is an example for every forest guard in India to follow.

And for this, we honour him.

Hanuman Singh Gurjar

From monitoring straying tigers to keeping a vigilant eye on illegal activities, the breadth of his fieldwork is matched by his administration skills. Serving as the core commander of the Village Wildlife Volunteers, he has played a key role in establishing the programme, having trained as many as 50 volunteers to assist in the task of protecting Ranthambhore’s invaluable wildlife. A strong bridge between the local community and forest officials, he has helped to sensitise close to 90 villages about the benefits of forest ecosystems under a programme organised by Tiger Watch. He exemplifies the virtues that we wish to see in all wilderness protectors. We salute his unwavering spirit.

And for this, we honour him.

Pandurang Pakhale

An iron man of the Maharashtra Forest Department, he is presently posted at the Pench Tiger Reserve as a Range Forest Officer of East Pench Range. He is responsible for the arrest of more than a dozen tiger poachers. He has continued investigations despite strong protests and police complaints – the result of political clout and support of fish mafia for the poachers. His efforts paid off when the Honourable Bombay High Court, Nagpur bench rejected the bail plea of the poachers. For Pakhale, such face offs are not unusual. In January 2017, he took on pangolin traders and poachers whom he took to court and stood up to political leaders who demanded his arrest and transfer. He also busted monitor lizard poachers and arrested eight of them in June 2017.

In his short service of three years in the Forest Department, he has filed 14 Preliminary Offence Reports and booked 57 accused of wildlife crimes. His goal is simple and in his words, “I am simply protecting the forest and wildlife for the next generation including my 10-year-old daughter Dnyaneshwari.”

And for this, we honour him.

First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXVII No. 12, December 2017

 
 
 

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