ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Lessons from Ranthambhore's Ustad

The polarising debate around a nine-year-old tiger who killed a forest guard in Ranthambhore National Park, and was eventually relocated, will serve little to address complex problems of conservation. This article focuses on the scientifi c and societal considerations of wildlife conservation--the forest guards as well as the communities living inside and around wildlife habitats.

On 8 May, Rampal Saini, a forest guard at the Ranthambhore National Park (RNP) was fatally attacked by a tiger. He had been working with the forest department for 27 years. The investigation on ground by the forest department and local conservationists was based on eyewitness accounts of three other forest guards who rushed Rampal’s body to a hospital. A nine-year- old tiger, T-24 or Ustad, was held responsible for the death. This was the fourth person and the second forest department employee to have lost his life to a tiger within a period of five years in Ranthambhore.

With assurances of prompt action against the accused by the forest department, peace prevailed on ground. However, in the past, when previous deaths had occurred, there were protests by violent mobs who created roadblocks, attacked the local station house officer (SHO) and refused to accept a victim’s body unless adequate compensation was paid.

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