A life with wildlife

Maharani Radhika Raje Gaekwad of Baroda pens down a few lines on the legacy of her father, renowned authority and author of wildlife books, Maharaj Kumar Dr RanjitsinhHe was awarded lifetime achievement award in 2014 for his conservation works. His book A Life With Wildlife recounts his odyssey.

Today the sole repository of the fate of our forest and its wildlife is our government but there was a time when our natural heritage enjoyed both the pride and protection of India’s royal families.
Royalty had an unsurpassed communion with wildlife. Infamous for shikar, there was also the patronage that the forests received that sustained our Indian wilderness far more than our democracy has.
My father, Maharaj Kumar Dr Ranjitsinh, born in the princely family of Wankaner not only witnessed this transition–but as one of the few royals who chose not to recline on his lineage, he joined the administrative service and was selected director for wildlife twice–was perhaps the single-most influential contributor to our present-day ecology. He is not only the architect of the Wildlife Protection Act of India that today protects our forests, but also carved out new havens of nature. To his distinction are the birth of 8 national parks and 14 sanctuaries and he more than doubled the area of three existing national parks, adding forest protection to an area of almost 9,000 sq. km. His is a contribution unprecedented in the history of independent India.
For every girl, the father is a hero but mine is one for generations of both students and proponents of ecology and wildlife.
He is perhaps the only living person to have a large mammal named after him. A sub-species of the Indian Barasingha has been named cervus duvauceli Ranjit Sinhji in recognition of his contribution to saving the central Indian Barasingha only found in Kanha in Madhya Pradesh, and the Manipur brow-antlered deer, only confined to one place in Manipur.
A living legend that dedicated his life to the survival and sanctity of nature, A Life With Wildlife is his account of the trials and triumphs of his world of wilderness.

A Life With Wildlife
Author: MK Ranjitsinh
Publisher: HarperCollins
Price: Rs 799

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