Courtesy: Brijendra Singh.
Month Year: December 2009
LIFETIME SERVICE AWARD
Brijendra Singh is an extraordinary man by any measure. One of India’s leading elephant experts, his name is synonymous with the Corbett Tiger Reserve. In the early 1980s, the entire top brass of the District Administration of Uttar Pradesh –including the District Commissioner, District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, the Sub Divisional Magistrate and the Police Station House Officer – discovered this to their dismay when he brandished a licensed revolver and conducted a citizen’s arrest, taking them into custody. They had poached a chital deer in the heart of the Tiger Reserve and thought they could get away with it Singh’s love affair with Corbett began in the late sixties when he used the good offices of Mrs. Indira Gandhi to prevent a three-star hotel from being constructed in Corbett’s Khinnanauli area. He also prevented a Police Academy from being sited in Kalagarh. He then accompanied Christian and Nadine Zuber in 1972 when they took the evocative image of a tiger in a leg trap, which some say spurred the launch of Project Tiger.
In those early days, Singh’s uncle, the famous Billy Arjan Singh of Dudhwa, suggested that he be appointed Honorary Wildlife Warden of the Corbett Tiger Reserve area. Since then he has worked ceaselessly to secure the future of the Corbett landscape, succeeding in the late 1980s to prevail upon his friend the late, Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi to add the vital Sona Nadhi Sanctuary and other key buffer areas to the reserve. He has also served as a Member of the Indian Board for Wildlife and the Steering Committee of Project Tiger, Government of India.
He is currently working to expand the physical area of all tiger reserves in India even as he continues to lobby for more resources to obtain boats, vehicles and better working conditions for the field staff of his precious Corbett.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXIX No. 6, December 2009.