Month Year: December 2002
Wildlife Service Award
Jasbir Singh Chauhan joined the Indian Forest Service in 1987. After training at the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehradun and the National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, he was posted in Madhya Pradesh. In 1995, he took over as Deputy Director of the Kanha Tiger Reserve. During his three-year tenure, his contribution to the consolidation of the reserve’s management was significant.
The initiative he took in the relocation of eight permanent cattle camps from Phen Wildlife Sanctuary in 1996 paved the way for the restoration of the sanctuary’s habitat. His contributions to wildlife protection in Madhya Pradesh include enforcing strict protection measures, regulating tourism activity and streamlining the tourist guide system. In 1998, he was posted as DFO, Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, where he is still posted today. For the last three and a half years, he has been implementing the Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project in Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary. A very vital aspect of this project includes the voluntary relocation of the 24 villages from inside the sanctuary.
Chauhan, working with the district administration and NGOs, has supervised the re-housing of over 1,400 families from 23 villages. The remarkable response to such efforts has been a virtual explosion of natural regeneration in Kuno, where the prey base has risen and water regimes already show marked signs of improvement. Chauhan attributes such successes to departmental support, teamwork among Kuno’s frontline staff and the cooperation of NGOs. The 345 sq. km. Kuno Sanctuary has been liberated from the pressure of over 10,000 migratory cattle that used to be brought in from Rajasthan and nearby villages annually. Studies are now on to establish just when the area will be ready to accept a pride of lions from Gir. Whether Chauhan is there to help reintroduce them or not, he has certainly paved the way for the survival of the species.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXII No. 6, December 2002.