Photo Credit: Bittu Sahgal.
Month Year: October 2001
Wildlife Service Award
Field Director, Sariska Tiger Reserve, Tejvir Singh believes that it will only be possible to save tigers if we are able to win the support of villagers living in and around tiger forests. It is this down-to-earth attitude that has helped him restore life and security in Sariska, a forest plagued with more than its fair share of problems ever since its inception.
Recently, he has been working very closely with the NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh to stop the rampant illegal mining that was taking place in the very core of the reserve. Today, thanks largely to this cooperative effort, all the mines inside Sariska have been shut down. When asked, he shrugs off the threats to his life that were made public by quarry owners: “I will do what I have to. Let them do what they wish to.” Trusted by villagers, he is now called upon to help solve man-animal conflict situations that arise when leopards and tigers come too close for comfort to humans. On one particular occasion in December 1997, a panther strayed into Sota-ka-Baas village and injured three people. It was about to be shot when he convinced the villagers to help him tranquillise the cat. The incident earned him the confidence of the villagers and raised the morale of the staff.
Recognising that the prime need of the tiger is peace and quiet, he has worked very hard at convincing the powers-that-be in Rajasthan to close down State Highway No. 13, which cuts through the heart of the Sariska Tiger Reserve. He has documented and highlighted the many road deaths of varied wild animals, including tigers and leopards. After prolonged efforts at the administrative and political level, he has recently succeeded in obtaining a landmark decision by the government to divert the road. For his wisdom, warmth and perseverance, his dedication and valour, we honour and recognise this valuable green soldier.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXI No. 5, October 2001.