Tag Archives: Panna Tiger Reserve

Global Tiger Day: CREW talks of tigers and tiger habitat

Lalit Shastri

Central Indian Highlands

Today is Global Tiger Day, also called International Tiger Day. It is to celebrate and raise awareness about conservation and the largest cat species.

Tiger sits at the apex of the biotic pyramid. Today the magnificent tiger is threatened like never before due to the endless greed of the human beings leading to excessive biotic pressure, man-animal conflict and progressive devastation of forest cover.

After intensive research and ground level collection of information and data, CREW (Crusade for Revival of Environment and Wildlife), which is a not-for-profit organisation formed by a small group of concerned citizens in 1997 and registered under the Madhya Pradesh Society Registration Act 1973, had released two reports Vanishing Stripes in the year 1999 and Vanishing Stripes-II in 2000 to issue the firm warning that Tiger’s survival is threatened by poaching and loss of prey-base. These reports reveal the gravity of the problem and point out how gravely the tiger is threatened in one of its most fantastic habitats.

Crew marked the tiger reports by giving a call for immediate steps to save the tigers. The Big cats were already on the verge of extinction when Crew had published Vanishing Stripes in two parts in 1990 and 2000. Crew focused attention on causes threatening the survival of tigers. These include Illegal mining; unhindered grazing of cattle; reckless logging even in the Protected Areas in the name of firewood collection; man-made forest fires – many times caused by those engaged in minor forest produce collection; encroachment of forest land and its regularisation by doling out settlement rights to the encroachers by successive governments (the lid has been off on this count with the enactment of the Forest Rights Act); and the menace of poaching.

Tragically enough, ten years after these reports (Vanishing Stripes and Vanishing Stripes-II) were published by CREW, the last of the tigers had vanished from the Panna landscape. Under these glaring circumstances, the Panna Tiger Reintroduction Project was launched. It is an entirely a different story that tigers in sizeable numbers are once again roaming freely in this landscape. The credit for this goes to the dedicated team of Panna Tiger Reserve personnel who worked overtime with commitment and dedication to effect a turnaround undaunted by the grim situation on the ground.

Panna Tiger T-71, now in Bandhavgarh! (Photo source: Vijayarajan Muthu )

Ask those behind this project and they would tell how they shudder when a tiger wanders away from the Protected Area. Today the forest and wildlife experts treat it as a miracle if a tiger leaves the protected habitat and finds a mate in another Protected Area by crossing whatever is left of the forest corridor in the central Indian highlands, where the once heavily forested plateaux are now turning bald and vast patches of forest area is fast losing its canopy, the small trees, shrubs and undergrowth. With recurring forest fires, the forest surface is becoming hard as there are fewer insects and worms to burrow the soil to make the ground soft and porous to allow the rain water to seep in and get released gradually through brooks, streams and rivulets to keep the rivers perennially charged (there are also fewer birds and bees and this is leaving an adverse impact on forests and across large tracts one only sees a few standing trees and the forests are no more living forests – i.e. forests that can regenerate).

Living forest!

Come rains and what we have – a scenario where too much of water is now flowing down the slopes carrying with it lot of silt which accumulates in the river beds reducing the carrying capacity of the rivers. During the monsoon season, too much of water flows into the rivers in too short a time, thereby flooding them and for the remaining part of the year the rivers and their tributaries remain absolutely dry. We have built a system of dams which has replaced completely the river system. Since the drainage of rivers has been blocked by dams, their natural flushing is now a thing of the past and as a result the rivers have become excessively polluted.

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When the entire ecosystem is under attack, one can imagine the state of the biotic pyramid, the flora and fauna and the tiger that sits at its apex.

Today is a day for all of us to dedicate and rededicate ourselves to the cause of tigers, their habitat and the entire ecosystem. This is necessary not only for the survival of tigers but also for the survival of humankind.

Lalit Shastri, Editor-in-Chief Newsroom24x7, launched CREW in 1997 to raise awareness about various factors threatening environment, green cover and wildlife. He shot on location the documentary ‘Last of the Gharial’, produced by Assignment Earth. He has also been closely associated with the episode ‘Nature & Conservation’ with Serge De Gheldere. This forms part of CANVAS documentary ‘India for beginners’ –a Belgian production directed by award winning Director Tom Ven der Velpen. Lalit has been chosen this year (2017) to judge the Limited Series Short Form Category of the 2017 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival media competition. He was chosen in June 2016 to judge the “Best Earth & Sky” category for the Jackson Hole Science Media Awards.

Ken-Betwa Link Project will spell disaster for Panna Tiger Reserve

Lalit Shastri

Government of India and the State Governments of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have rallied forces and after according all mandatory clearances they are now waiting for the final nod from the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court to go ahead with the Ken-Betwa Link Project which will submerge more than 4000 ha of the core area of Panna Tiger Reserve.

T3–the male tiger relocated from Pench to repopulate the Panna habitat in 2009

The Stage has been set for drowning the core area of Panna Tiger Reserve when WWF is stressing on the need for global and national commitments to stop habitat loss due to deforestation and is pushing the idea of tiger reintroduction into Cambodia’s Eastern Plains by promoting the Panna model and telling the whole world how the Tiger reintroduction and translocations have successfully been used to recover tiger populations in India.

Panna was in news a few years ago, when Madhya Pradesh government had given full support to global diamond giant Rio Tinto’s Indian subsidiary which was planning to go for commercial mining of diamonds in an eco-sensitive zone close to the Panna Tiger Reserve. Reacting to this development, tiger expert Valmik Thapar spoke with a deep sense of foresight and vision when he had said (in 2010): “if Panna were to recover (the loss of all its tigers), it would need at least another 10 years of complete protection of surrounding forests and their connecting corridors.” Today seven years later, Panna is a huge success story. The tiger reintroduction initiative at Panna has been very successful and reintroduced tigers are breeding.

When we talk of Panna Tiger Reserve, its core area, and the connecting corridors we should not lose sight of the fact that this forest area is the northern-most tip of the best corridor of teak and dry mixed forest south of the Gangetic plain. The miscellaneous dry deciduous forest in Panna, which is interspersed with grassland areas, is an ideal habitat for tiger, leopard, spotted dear, black buck, sambar, wild dogs, sloth bear and the crocodilian gharial. Panna is also home for the endangered king vulture. The avifauna in the Panna National Park comprises more than 200 species including a host of migratory birds. A large variety of reptiles and snakes, including the python, are also found here.

Those bent upon going ahead with this dam will be doing a great disservice to the cause of conservation and ecological balance if they try to brush aside the fact that influx of numerous tributaries of Ken river have created unique micro-habitats and a substratum in the river. It has 89 species of fish, including the threatened mahaseer. If we look at the river in totality, the species richness is maximum at Daudhan, where an earth fill and concrete dam is proposed to be built.

The site in photo above is Sakra, 2 kms upstream from Daudhan. Mark the dense tree cover on the slope in the background. It will come under submergence. Photo by Harikrishna

It will be a disaster, if the Ken-Betwa Link Project gets the final go ahead signal and the core area of Panna Tiger Reserve is allowed to get submerged. The disturbance that will be caused in this area by logging millions of trees and transporting them out of this area cannot be assessed or imagined by those who are less informed.

Initially, the DPR done by NWDA, cited a figure of about 32,900 trees in the submergence area falling within the core of the Panna National Park. The basis for arriving at this figure was the baseless projection that there were only 7.8 trees per hectare in that area. When objections were raised, a sample survey was conducted and the per hectare count of trees was hiked by 22 to 45 times and the number of trees shot up to 1.1 million- a figure that was also counter-signed by the DFO Chhatapur. This survey was done by a forester and there is no record of his entry or exit from the Tiger Reserve during the survey period. When more objections were raised, the number of trees in the submergence area was raised to 1.4 million and this figure was verified by the present Panna National Park director. By the time these figures went to Government of India for clearance of the project, they had been raised further to 1.8 million. According to latest information, the number of trees has been hiked further from the initial count of 32,900 to 2.3 million. These figures relate to only the core area of Panna National Park. But many more trees would be cut down in the buffer and other territorial areas. Once the trees are cut and the area is brought under submergence, Panna will go through a second disaster after the successful repopulation of this habitat with tigers.

The big question is – what about the tigers that have already made Panna their habitat. Due to the Ken-Betwa Link project, the present Panna tiger population will be forced to migrate to adjoining areas where they will get into conflict with other settled tigers leading to infighting and mortality. There will also be man-animal conflict when the tigers will move out of their present habitat.

The death knell of Panna Tiger Reserve was sounded on August 23, 2016, when the Standing Committee of the National Wildlife Board (NWB) at its 39th meeting approved the proposal for Wildlife clearance with regard to Ken-Betwa Link Project-Phase I in Panna Tiger Reserve and agreed to recommend the proposal with the conditions to integrate Nauradehi, Rani Durgavati and Ranipur (UP) Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Panna Tiger Reserve and rehabilitate the affected villagers. Another condition that has been imposed is that the resultant reservoir area shall be retained as core area with minimum activities for management purpose under close consultation with the Tiger Reserve management.

The Standing Committee of the NWB also directed that the effort to integrate the three wildlife sanctuaries within the PTR should be undertaken simultaneously.

The crucial issue of integrating three wildlife sanctuaries with Panna National Park, a condition set by National Tiger Conservation Authority and approved by NWB, deserves caution as Madhya Pradesh Government’s credibility is poor when it comes to conservation and creating new protected areas. They have failed to create Omkareshwar National Park and Mandhata Wildlife Sanctuary. Even the proposal to declare Ratapani Sanctuary near the State capital as a Tiger Reserve has been hanging fire for long due to resistance from the vested interests.

Detailed technical studies for diversion of water from Ken river basin to Betwa river basin of Ganga main basin were carried out by National Water Development Agency (NWDA), a Government of India agency under Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR) and it was concluded by the Government that Betwa is a water short basin.

The main aim of Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP), according to the Government, is to transfer the “surplus water” of Ken basin to water deficit Betwa basin. The concurrence of the State Governments of UP and MP was received for this project August 5, 2005. This paved the way for signing of a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the Chief Ministers of UP and MP and Union Minister for Water Resources on August 25, 2005 in the presence of the Prime Minister of India. Under this agreement, both the States agreed for the sharing of water up to the Daudhan dam on Ken river.

Even at this stage, it is not too late to save the Panna landscape, which has been repopulated with tigers with great effort. There is ample ground to look for alternatives. The Silent Valley National Park in Kerala should serve as an example to stop the destruction of Panna. Ken-Betwa Link Project, which is threatening the Panna National Park’s rich flora and fauna, cannot be touted as the sole means to provide water for agriculture in the Betwa basin. The Chandela rulers of Bundelkhand (10th to 13th Century) are known for promoting water harvesting and watershed management, and for dotting their territory with traditional lakes and check dams. From the point of view of sustainable development, the Chandela model, if pursued vigorously, can still provide the right answer and deliver results on a fast track and at a fraction of KBLP’s cost.

Panna Tiger Reintroduction project and Bahubali 2: The story of the Panna Tigers 

R. Sreenivasa Murthy

I left Panna Tiger Reserve (as a part and parcel of  the system) in July 2015, almost two years ago. But every movement/development of Panna Tiger Population growth and population dynamics intrigues me and I follow it with awe. Most of the information comes to me on its own either (both) from outside (Panna People) or from the within the system (Park People).
A year ago, soon after the monsoons, a villager residing  on the eastern flank of the Panna Park (Panna-Amanganj side) phoned and informed me that a tiger is sitting in the bushes of his agricultural field. I told him not to disturb the tiger and to inform the same to the park authorities. Such instances were not very uncommon even now, whether a tiger migration or any other activity related to people-park issues. People from Jardhoba phoned me several times regarding their relocation and I had to pursue them to speak to the present authorities posted in the park.

In such a situation an interesting conversation about some T71 of Bandhavgargh (Tiger Reserve) appeared on social media on 31 May 2017 with a tiger moving unperturbed with lip licking posture and I reproduce the same:

Nilanjan Coomar
Great to see…if it is Panna’s tiger, but now in Bandhavgarh!
The eye to eye game continues…… Id:T-71


Assuming that this is a new tiger to Kithauli range of Bandhavgargh the attitude and body language of this tiger seems to perfectly fit with the hero of  Bahubali 2. Yes please recall the Bahubali- Two years ago when I had declared P212 as Bahubali1. Assuming that this is a new tiger to Kithauli range of Bandhavgargh the attitude and body language of this tiger seems to perfectly fit with the hero of  Bahubali 2. Yes please recall the Bahubali- Two years ago when I had declared P212 as Bahubali1.
My reaction to this social media conversation was instant and I reproduce it:

Rangaiah Sreenivasa Murthy: Is it true….I am delighted….Jai Panna Tigers,,,Jai Sherkhan….Jai Hind
June 4 at 6:21am
Then arose the question of authentication of the presumption. My answer to that question from Mr Niranjan was

Nilanjan Coomar Not fully sure if this is the case sir, I think this is just what is being reported. Stripe pattern matching to be done I guess

June 4 at 12:29pm • Edited
My answer/question to the clarification is reproduced.

Rangaiah Sreenivasa Murthy: Pl send me some more photos of the same with both flanks (if they are with you) in full size so that proper verification may be done. my email id is rseenu60@gmail.com and ph 9424790077
June 5 at 5:56am

Based on my queries I got the responses from different corners including one from Nilanjan Coomar. And they are:

Nilanjan Coomar: Sorry sir…as noted in the post, these pictures are not mine. I hope Mr Shekhhar Soni has other pictures that he can pass on to you.
June 5 at 9:58am

Vijayarajan Muthu: Rangaiah Sreenivasa Murthy Sir, here are flank shots of the Male who is believed to have migrated to Bandhavgarh (Khitauli) from Panna. It’d be great if you could kindly confirm it’s indeed true as apparently no one seems to have flank shots of each & every litter of T-1.
June 6 at 1:12pm

Then based on the photographic evidence from Bandhavgarh that I got from Mr Vijayarajan Muthu and in coordination with my earlier colleagues of park Dr Sanjeev Gupta (presently continuing as Panna Park Veterinary Officer) and Dr. Anupam Sahay IFS (presently working as DFO South Panna) who has provided me photographs and one camera trap photograph of the same tiger from park during 2015. But curiously enough, the WII team classified it as an unidentified tiger. Dr Sanjeev checked it with bad quality photographs that he had. Then I required good quality photographs to make it 100% sure to go public on this count. Dr Anupam helped me with the good quality photographs of Mr. Mohan Meena IAS who as Collector, Satna at that point of time had some good collection of photos of the tiger in question which he had clicked on 15 May 2015. This tiger was badly injured because of some in-fight or play among the siblings and his lower jaw skin and soft lower palate were hanging and we did a surgery on him on 11 April 2015 and photographs could show full recovery signs if one followed him carefully. At that time some people used to say that at Panna we are managing a Zoo by attending every tiger. But we knew what we were doing. Small intervention to help this individual tiger proved our point when he crossed all the hurdles and reached Bandhavgarh covering a distance of about 125 kms between Panna and Bandhavgarh. Thus establishing that a destined tiger can cover that distance overcoming both natural and man-made obtacles, thereby connecting both the source populations and strengthening the genes at both ends.

Then came the photo credit issue of the photographs supplied to me from Bandhavgarh and my conversation to and fro from Vijayarajan Muthu  is reproduced.

Rangaiah Sreenivasa Murthy: Pl send me some more photos of the same with both flanks (if they are with you) in full size so that proper verification may be done. my email id is rseenu60@gmail.com and ph 9424790077
June 5 at 5:56am

Vijayarajan Muthu: Rangaiah Sreenivasa Murthy Sir, here are flank shots of the Male who is believed to have migrated to Bandhavgarh (Khitauli) from Panna. It’d be great if you could kindly confirm it it’s indeed true as apparently no one seems to have flank shots of each & every litter of T-1.June 6 at 1:12pm

Then came my final answer to all and I reproduce:

Rangaiah Sreenivasa Murthy: Hold on for a while. Yeh Panna ki hai. I will post detailed investigation and identification report by tomorrow. Bahubali Begining ke baad Bahubali 2 aane me do sal laggaya tha..
20 hrs

Vijayarajan Muthu: Thank you so much for cracking the ID of the Tiger from Panna that has created history by safe and successful dispersal to Bandhavgarh Rangaiah Sreenivasa Murthy Sir !!! Kindly note, while the image credit of the left flank should be Akhilvijay Singh, the right flank shot belongs to Sandeep Dutta.Like at 11:32am

At this juncture every one may be curious what about me and my photographic collection? Sorry my hard disk carrying  Panna Treasure House between 2014-2015 crashed last April (2016) and I am struggling to get the files retrieved. Felt sorry about it, but thought that it is not mine. If something does not belong to you, it will never be with you… and vice versa is also 100% correct. Amen.

Now a serious business of T71’s identification-

Luckily I got the frontal, right and left flank pics of 2015 (at Panna) and 2017 (at Bandhavgargh) left flank belongs to Akhilvijay Singh, the right flank credit goes to Sandeep Dutta as the photos claim. Still I am not sure to whom the frontal view belongs to?

Based on the facial marking and stripe pattern I have identified 7 unique markings of this tiger in question and numbered them accordingly.  2015 (May and October) photographs at Panna Tiger Reserve and 2017 (June) photographs of the same individual at Bandhavgargh Tiger Reserve are depicted and these unique marking match with each other perfectly and the tiger in question. The tiger identification is  not a rocket science, it is a common sense. What all you need is to maintain a perfect photographic library of the tigers you have. If you have more resources you may maintain the genetic profile, which may be cost prohibitive and may not require for simple management of tiger population dynamics of Tiger at India as on date.

The photo showing tiger with its kill has been captured in Kaldha range of South Panna forest deivision, a resting place for tigers between Panna and Bandahvgarh. The photo was taken on October 15, 2016. This tiger got caputureed in beat Rampur PF-833.

Thus, T71 of Bandhavgargh is here by identified as P213-21 of Panna Tiger Reserve. This male tiger is the first son (male tiger) of P213’s (T2’s third daughter (female tiger) of her first litter) second litter. His Birth date is 5 December 2014 as per the monitoring records maintained by MPFD and FD, Panna TR.

Input, Output, Outcome and Implication:

Input: 24×7 monitoring, timely interventions by the dedicated Panna Team,  Jan Samarthan se Baagh Samrakhsan.

Output: This tiger might have started migrating between August 2015 and August 2016 and might have reached the nearest Tiger Source Population on the eastern corridor on its own by June 2017. I strongly belive he is a destined one to have been saved by surgery by Panna Team and survived to reach the adjoining Tiger Source Population.

Outcome: Exchange of natural Genes or gene flow between two tiger source populations in less than 7 years of human care and attention.

Implication: Critical populations like Panna can also survive if a small amount of Human care is ensued for the rest of the Nature of which the tiger is only one species. Does nature require human care or vice versa?!!?  Post script:  Anant (No Beginning no End) Bahubali 1 and Bahubali 2 of Panna:
Now comes the question of Bahubali The Begining and Bahubali 2.  Bahubali: The Beginning  (Movie) appeared on World Motion Picture arena in 2015 and P212 started  migrating to find other tiger source population in Febuary 2015 and finally could not reach either Bandhavgarh or Sanjay TRs on its own due to various anthropogenic issues. Then the Panna, Bandhvgarh and Sanjay Tiger Resrve Teams helped to him to reach Sanjay Tiger Reserve, where he fathered a litter with a resident tiger and later died. At that time I named P212 as Bahubali of Panna.  (Shall we call him Amarendra Bahubali.) Now this P213-21 steered through all the hurdles  without anyone’s aide and reached Bandhavgarh and hope he will fight it out with Ballaladev’s of Bandhavgarh and I herewith name him Bahubali 2. And I name him Amarendra Bahubali…. Bhali Bhali Bahli Bhali raa Bhali Saho re Bahubali…Jaya Haarati neeke kottali , Bhuvana lanni Jai kottali, Gananale Chatram Pattali…(Insert the song from the film if you want and elevate nature loving people around including yourselves. Yes I am hearing the title song from Bahubali 2 and on cloud 9)  Panna Tigers Jindabad…Panna and Tiger People Jindabad….













The beginning of the efforts to resurrect Panna Tiger Reserve was marred by controversy and opposition

Suhas Kumar
(Original, March 2009 -Revised May 2017)

There came a time in the history of Madhya Pradesh, a state that leads from the front in the field of wildlife conservation in India, when it faced international flak for losing all its tigers from Panna Tiger Reserve. I was on study leave when reports began pouring in about the ‘’Panna debacle”. I was shocked as well as angry by the media reports and annoyed by the tirade which some well-meaning Conservation NGOs and self–centred hoteliers had launched together against the wildlife wing and particularly against the then Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW), Dr. H.S. Pabla. When Dr. Pabla resolved to bring back tigers to Panna by transferring tigers from other reserves, doomsday predictions adorned the front pages of the newspapers and many experts, especially from the metropolis, voiced their skepticism in media. Some hoteliers even mobilized guides to protest against transfer of tigers from one reserve to another. One of the news items was particularly irritating, and I couldn’t control my anger and decided to give a befitting reply to the detractors. I sent my point of view to Hindustan times and later to the Sanctuary Asia magazine and they published it.

I am reproducing that article for the benefit of the younger generation of wildlife managers –

“Transfer of tigresses from Kanha and Bandhavgarh to Panna is being opposed by local guides and conservationists”————- Over the last week in every newspaper worth its name the above caption adorned the news about the tiger supplementation move begun by the state government. I am appalled, not by the move but by the sheer misunderstanding that the guides and some of the hoteliers and the so-called conservationists are suffering from. In my opinion, their opposition primarily arises out of self-preservation rather than their interest in saving the tigers’.

Let me explain the other side of the story to put things in the right perspective:

Tiger is a long-ranging species, and its long-term survival precariously depends on genetic exchange with other tiger populations elsewhere. Tigers inhabit and breed in undisturbed habitats. When the population of tiger increases within a protected area, competition among them leads to conflict, and the weaker tigers are pushed out to the peripheral and sub-optimal habitats outside protected area boundaries. Besides, research confirms that female tigresses fail to come into oestrus (a recurring period of sexual receptivity and fertility in many female mammals) and even when pregnant they often abort if the conditions –secure habitat, prey animals and appropriate breeding cover are not available. Such suitable habitats, abundant prey, and cover are scarce outside protected areas (national parks- sanctuaries and tiger reserves).

Beyond the boundaries of the tiger reserves, diverse land uses, the presence of hostile villagers, poachers emboldened by insignificant protection machinery and lack of adequate trained protection force leads to their extermination. When tigers find no suitable place to occupy outside protected areas, they are condemned to huddle within small areas and get into fierce territorial fights that often culminate in the death of the weaker tigers. This situation is already prevailing in some of the tiger reserves like Kanha.

The irony is our tiger reserves, and other categories of protected areas are diminutive in size compared to the protected areas of Africa and Americas that are large enough or contiguous with other protected areas encompassing the ecological boundaries of long-ranging species either within a protected area or landscape. In India, most of the tiger reserves have already reached the threshold population that such small areas can hold. India’s conservation strategy that visualizes linking smaller Protected Areas through viable forested corridors is perhaps the only answer to achieving this vital biological requirement. Unfortunately, this concept couldn’t take off owing to the absence of support from the right quarters as well as the non-availability of an enormous amount of funds that is required to restock fragmented forests and provide alternatives to those natural resources for which the local people depend on buffer and corridor-forests. The human dependence on forests and forest land is ever increasing – forests are getting more and more fragmented owing to its diversion for roads, expansion of cities into wild habitats and other massive development projects, including the proliferation of hotels and eateries along the periphery of the tiger reserves.

Obviously, our protected areas, tiger reserves included, are like ‘islands’ surrounded by a sea of diverse land uses that are largely incompatible to the conservation of wildlife. Today, the average size of protected areas in India’s is only 269 sq km, which are therefore like islands in ecological terms.

An ecological theory propounds that the rate of extinction of any species is rapid on an island. Such small protected areas are often ecologically not viable if these do not have connecting links with adjacent protected areas for facilitating movement of larger species of fauna and genetic continuity between isolated populations of plant and animal species through continuous distribution. Now with the above facts before us, it is not very difficult to surmise why tigers need to be shifted from some tiger reserves bursting at the seam with tigers to those reserves where tiger population has shrunk and needs to be injected with fresh genes and more females to breed more tigers.

©Suhas Kumar (6.3.2009), is Member Madhya Pradesh Wildlife Board. As an Indian Forest Service officer,  borne on the Madhya Pradesh cadre, he served at the level of Principal Chief Conservator Forest. He has distingushed himself as a wildlife expert who worked with conviction and whose mission is conservation