The Tale Of Tara

The Tale Of Tara: - Page 1&2: Raising & Release | 3: A Man-Eater In Dudhwa | 4: Tara's Heritage

An introduction to Billy Arjan Singh:

Feisty 'Billy' Arjan Singh is a conservationist recognised by most tiger lovers. Born in Gorakhpur in 1917, he joined the British army in 1940 and fought in World War II. Upon his return to India he puchased a farm on the edge of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and National Park in the Lahimpur Kheri district of India. He still lives here in a residence he designed and calls 'Tiger Haven'.

Singh was honoured for his conservation efforts with Padma Shri in 1995. One of India's highest national awards it is conferred on people who distinguish themselves in different fields. This was closely followed by the world wildlife gold medal in 1976, then the Order of the Golden Ark only a year later and the lifetime award for tiger conservation in March 1999.

Hunter turned conservationist:

Initially, not unlike conservationist Jim Corbett, hunting held a fascination for Singh, and he admits to killing as many as seven tigers. When the Indian government banned tiger hunts he quit the hobby and took up the cudgel in defence of the tiger's worsening situation.

Singh would probably be one of the first people to admit that he's a controversial figure, becoming highly unpopular for helping to put 26 shikar (sport hunting) companies out of business. It was he who, in 1969, suggested India should impose a ban on shooting tigers for sport. He was deeply involved with project Tiger and his work led to the creation of Dudhwa National Park. It also led to the introduction of Tara into the wild....

Fatal flaws:

Singh thought he saw a fatal flaw within the plans for the Project Tiger reserves. Analysis had suggested that a minimum of 300 tigers, in an area between 2,000 and 3,000 square miles, was required in each gene pool for species preservation. Project Tiger reserves are not large and none of them at that time met the requirement.

The reserves were also too far apart for tigers to move from one area to another. In essence, Project tiger reserves were small isolated pockets containing a minimal number of tigers. Eventually, inbreeding would cause health and reproduction problems in the cats.

It was these problems that led to the idea of raising a captive-bred cub in the locality, with an eye towards releasing her into the wild. The action would achieve two things:

    • Demonstrating that artificial restocking was possible.
    • Refreshing the gene pool in Dudhawa Tiger reserve.

    An experiment of this type was unprecedented. Release programmes had already been attempted with lions and cheetah in Africa, however Singh was to be the first to try with a tiger.

    (Continued Page 2)

The Tale Of Tara: - Page 1&2: Raising & Release | 3: A Man-Eater In Dudhwa | 4: Tara's Heritage

Origin | Project Tiger | Releasing Captive Tigers | The Tale Of Tara | Taking A CensusPost Mortems
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Photography With Thanks To Aditya Singh (Photo 2)
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