Renu Singh, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest / CCF Central Zone and CCF Lucknow Zone, is a 1997 batch IFS officer (UP Cadre) …
Q: You have served in some most difficult and peculiar terrains as conservator. Can you elaborate on a couple of them-the difficulties and challenges?
I am an Indian Forest Service Officer of 1997 batch of Uttar Pradesh cadre. My initial cadre was Bihar, my home cadre. My cadre got transferred to Uttar Pradesh after marriage with Amitabh Yash, IPS, 1996 batch. I came to Uttar Pradesh in the year 2000; my first posting was with the office of Conservator of Forest, Gorakhpur. I was made Forest Protection Officer. I used to do search operations for illegal saw mills, protection of forest, helping in reducing the human wild animal conflict. It was a very successful tenure; the illegal saw mills were dismantled and legal actions were taken against them. I helped in carrying out plantation activities as well.
In the year 2002, I was posted as DFO endangered species project, Lucknow. I used to look after the following -
• Gharial Breeding Rehabilitation Centre Kukrail, Lucknow.
• Bird sanctuaries.
• Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, Unnao.
• Samspur Bird Sanctuary, Rae Bareli.
• Sandi Bird Sanctuary, Hardoi.
• Lakh Bahosi Bird sanctuary, Kannauj.
The Bird sanctuaries used to receive lots of migratory birds in winters. The entire wetland used to get covered with the winged guest arriving from Siberia, Central Asia. The wetlands used to be cleaned and developed to receive the migratory guests. Protection used to be provided to these birds. The watch towers, boat ghats, Touring officer quarters etc. were constructed. The lakes were cleaned of Eichhornia water weeds. Islands were made and babul trees planted to provide shade and resting place of these birds. Protection was provided to the birds. The tourist used to come and learn a lot from these sanctuaries. The challenge was to keep optimum water level in the wetland for survival of the biodiversity.
Sandi Bird Sanctuary wetland had completely dried. I revived this wetland with my personal attention and care. Wetland was desilted and lift canal was constructed to revive this dried wetland. The wetland revived and again received migratory birds in winters. The Sarus crane breeding used to take place at this sanctuary. In Kukrail Gharial Breeding and Rehabilitation Centre, along with gharials also housed turtles. One of the most endangered turtle was Sal kachua. When I took charge as DFO Endangered Species Project, I shifted these Sal turtles to a new enclosure. First time in the captivity, the Sal kachua started breeding. The turtles were called Tilakdhari Kachua, because during breeding season males developing tilak or vermillion like structure on their head. Males are small and females are large in size. When they started breeding, one interesting observation was made: One of the females was pregnant with eggs in her body, she suddenly expired. The postmortem was done, the eggs were recovered from her body. I asked the staff to incubate the eggs in the sand/ hatchery. To my pleasant surprise, after the incubation period, the small hatching of turtles came out. This was surprising because the eggs were extracted from the body of a dead female and those eggs produced live hatchlings. A phenomenon never heard of or observed in the world ever. It was unique and first of its kind.
From 2007 to 2013, I become Director Lucknow Zoo. As a director I served the Lucknow Zoo for six years, the longest serving director of the Lucknow Zoo in the past 100 years. Two leopard cubs- Sharda and Suheli- that were abandoned by their mother in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve came to my Zoo. The main challenge was to take care of them and hand raise them. They were just a week old; their eyes were not even open. They came in the month of January, we hand reared them, I used to go to the Zoo at night around 2 am to take care of them and see them, I used to hand feed them. To my happiness, the cubs survived and became healthy females in due course of time. I revived the adoption scheme in the Zoo. We received a leopardess rescued from Mirzapur. She was named Dia Mirza by us. She was married to rescued male leopard from Allahabad named Akbar Allhabadi. Dia Mirza leopardess became pregnant and gave birth to two leopard cubs. I wrote a letter to Dia Mirza, inviting her to see the leopardess Dia Mirza and name the cubs. Dia Mirza then named the cubs Ashoka and Nakshtra and came to Lucknow Zoo to see the cubs and the leopardess; She adopted them by giving a cheque of Rs 1 lakh only. The adoption scheme in Lucknow Zoo was a great success. People adopted the animals in the names of their loved ones. Even on birthdays they used to adopt animals. I started celebrating the birthday of zoo animals which was very popular as a Zoo Education programme. I made Lucknow Zoo as the first solar zoo in the country.
I worked as CCF Central Zone, CCF Lucknow Zone. Now working as APCCF / CCF Central Zone and CCF Lucknow Zone, carrying out plantation activities helping in reducing man-animal conflict, Nursery management activities, created Nagar Van in Rae Bareli and Hardoi.
I was the first lady director of Delhi Zoo (National Zoological Park Mathura road, New Delhi). There was a chimpanzee named Rita (57) for whom I tried and got the Limca Book of World Records for being the oldest Chimpanzee in Asia. Then there was Vijay, the tiger, that had once killed a visitor who had entered into him enclosure. I celebrated his birthday and gave him a complete image makeover and introduced him in zoo education programme. I created awareness on the need to show caution with a wild beast. I also introduced prams in Delhi zoo as well as baby feeding cabins.
Q: Do you think zoological parks must now take on a broader meaning with enclosures giving way to open spaces for the inmates? If so, what would be the benefits and pitfalls?
True, the zoological parks should now take on a broader meaning with enclosures giving way to open space for the inmates. Zoos are the places where ex situ conservation of the wild animals and birds take place. Now a days the enclosures are open and natural habitat are being provided to the wild animals and birds in the zoos. A new concept of Immersion Experience Enclosures is adopted so that the enclosers appear natural to both animals and visitors
Q: What is the goal you are determined to achieve in your present position?
Now I am posted as APCCF (Additional Principal Chief Conservator of forest) / CCF Central Zone and CCF Lucknow Zone. The goals that I have to archive is plantation of 35 crore plants in the state. All zones /division have been given nursery and plantation targets that have to be achieved. We are preparing and maintaining the nurseries, where we are raising many species of plants that will be planted in July in the forest and fields. We have to attend and resolve various man-animal conflict issues. We have developed fresh water mangrove forest in Shravasti and Gonda division and also develop various wetlands in the various divisions. We are developing various beautiful ecotourism sites in our divisions. Making Nagar Van in Hardoi and Rae Bareli, which act as green lung of the cities.
This Navratri, on all the nine days, I planted Trishakti plants denoting the Tri Shakti. The plants are Neem, Mango, Kadam denoting Goddess Durga, Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Parvati respectively. I went to nine different areas and planted Trishakti vriksha. It was my way of worshiping the goddesses. This was a first-of-its-kind plantation.
We also, created food forest by planting trees that provide fruits like Mango, Aonla, Sehjan, Guava, Jamun, Mahua etc. We also created Shakti Van; the plants were planted by women only. I also created Shakti nurseries where only women worked. Yuva Van and Bal Van were also created at the colleges and school, where plants were raised by youth and young children. This year we are going to create medicinal forests like Shrushrut Van and Charak Van by planting medicinal plants.