“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man,” said Charles Darwin, the renowned naturalist best known for his theory of evolution.
Raza Tehsin seems to have trodden on the heels of just that. Popularly known as the Vasco-Da-Gama of Udaipur, Tehsin has been working very hard to preserve the rich wildlife in and around the city.
It was his father’s arms and ammunition business in Mewar as well as his family-run mining establishment that brought him close to nature. Later, Tehsin decided to travel across the thick jungles of the Aravali hill ranges. The widespread destruction of wildlife and their natural habitats for trade and commerce in the region started affecting him tremendously.
“I have a story associated with every hill and a memory with every other stream in the Aravalli hills. A silent battle was waging between man and the wild. And, all the signs indicate that the wilds are losing ground”, Tehsin wrote in his book Steed of the Jungle God: Thrilling Experiences in the Wild.
After witnessing ill-practices like commercial poaching, he decided to work in the areas of wildlife protection and conservation. From organising campaigns and activities, conducting extensive research to authoring books, Tehsin has done it all.
One of Tehsin’s earliest campaigns in the early 1980s, was dedicated to protect the Kalp Vriksh, a 400-year old tree (also known as Kalpataru or Baobab) believed to fulfill people’s wishes. During the expansion of the General Hospital in Udaipur, the city’s only Kalp Vriksh, was slated to be cut down. However, with no cooperation from the government's side, the efforts of Tehsin attracted a much needed media outrage. This media attention created pressure on the government, who had no option, but to change the expansion plan of the hospital, leaving the tree untouched.
It was through Tehsin’s consistent efforts that the state government of Rajasthan stopped the free export of frogs. His endeavour resulted in tribals around Udaipur putting an end to the practice of Aida or the mass hunting of animals.The wildlife enthusiast played a key role in implementing a ban on the slaughter of jackals and also raised his voice with regard to the declining population of vultures in Rajasthan.
Samar Singh Dungarpur, ex-Secretary of the Government of India and Ex-General Secretary of WWF-India, is all praises for Tehsin. “A born naturalist, Raza Tehsin has been passionate about the natural world from his younger days in a manner that is indeed uncommon and commendable,” he says.
Tehsin has not only been taking actionable steps to protect wildlife, but is into penning down his research as well as experiences. He has written over 60 research papers in international and national journals, the most notable ones being Tiger Paper issued by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Cheetal as part of the Journal of Bombay Natural History Society.
Moreover, Tehsin’s work has been mentioned in many textbooks at the school level - the Environmental Studies book of NCERT (Central Board syllabus for schools across India), and magazines like Dharmyug and Mystic India to name a few.
Even today, Raza Tehsin is synonymous with wildlife conservation across Rajasthan. His work has been recognised by several entities like the Department of Forest, Govt. of Rajasthan, Wildlife Conservation Society of India and the Ajmer and Udaipur Chapter of WWF.
Edited by Roshni Shroff
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