|Project Tiger is indebted to him for its success
One of the greatest legends in the world of the tiger is no more.
me, it is the loss of my best friend and a man who opened for me the
windows of a lifetime with tigers 35 years ago. He was bigger than life
itself and lived his life to the full. Those who met him were
mesmerised by his humour, wit and joy of life.
could make you laugh and cry like none other and he was enormously
generous in spirit and welcomed every stranger to his home which was
the beautiful Ranthambore National Park.
was one such stranger. I have never met and will never meet someone so
unique in character and spirit. He loved his tigers, Ranthambore,
ghazals, Rajasthani music, and, his fireplace in the winter was an
experience like no other for many who were made welcome. He was the
true tiger man and an instinctive expert. He did not need the formal
training to put Ranthambore on the world map. He did it with common
sense and is singly responsible for its success and fame across the
world. He was disliked by many for being truthful but he never
compromised. And he was at home with one and all: be it PMs or
Presidents or his forest guards and villagers.
remember, when I met former US President Clinton after he had roamed
the park with the legend, he was beaming like a child after the ‘‘Fateh
Singh experience’’ and the tigers he saw. His impact was huge and as
much as he engaged with high profile visitors, he loved singing and
dancing with locals.
With him, you learnt about life and living.
He can never be forgotten and not just for tigers but for his
generosity, and warmth and spirit of life he had an amazing ability to
have you rolling in laughter. He deserves recognition from all,
especially from a government that refused to recognise his skill,
expertise and experience till the end.
Project Tiger as a whole should be indebted to him for the ‘‘success
story’’. For me, I have lost my greatest friend, mentor and guide who
opened a world of tigers for me and made this life I lead possible. May
he rest in peace among the tigers he loved and may his spirit live on
to inspire the countless that he enveloped with love and hope.
Valmik Thapar is a tiger conservationist and author of various books on wildlife