Wildlife Service Award
Tiger conservationist and scientist, firebrand environmentalist
Photo Courtesy: HYTICOS/WCS-India
From raising and selling poultry to fund his wildlife obsession to being on the Telangana State Board for Wildlife, an external expert for tiger monitoring in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the Assistant Director of Conservation Science at WCS-India and the founder of the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society (HyTiCoS), Imran Siddiqui’s been on one hell of a roller coaster ride in his pursuit of tiger conservation. Wildlife isn’t intimidated by human-drawn borders, and neither is Imran. Traversing the rugged landscapes of Kawal, Amrabad, Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserves and Gundla Brahmeswaram Wildlife Sanctuary, he works in collaboration with the State Forest Departments and his crew of over 400 volunteers and 60 teammates across 10,000 sq. km. of broken chain of wilderness in Telangana and A.P. Here, he leads scientific surveys on prey analysis, occupancy surveys on mammals, helps in management planning, engages in snare removal drives, initiates voluntary relocation programmes for forest dwellers, facilitates capacity building workshops for the Forest Department and influences policy through public interest litigations, political will and strong advocacy. His efforts have seen the effective implementation of compensation schemes by the government and the initiation of a voluntary relocation project for landless poor tribals. Imran is also largely credited for the declaration of the Kawal Tiger Reserve (where he conducted the fieldwork for his Masters dissertation under the hawk-eyed mentorship of Dr. Ullas Karanth and Dr. Samba Kumar) for which he not only lobbied at a political level but also worked tirelessly for on the ground – countering misinformation spread by vested interests to win the support of local communities. A tenacious man in the field and a convincing man in the boardroom, Imran Siddiqui is in no small way responsible for the revival of tigers in this vast but obscure landscape.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXVIII No. 12, December 2018