Bhupen Talukdar

Wildlife Service Awards (2003)

Tough. Uncompromising. Effective. Words that sum up Bhupen Talukdar, defender of the rhino. While rhinos were being systematically wiped out in Manas in the 1990s by international poaching gangs in league with insurrectionists, Talukdar and key colleagues forged themselves into a wall of resistance in Kaziranga. They resurrected the endangered Indian one-horned rhinoceros here and will forever be remembered for warding off the extinction of this endangered pachyderm. 

Bhupen Talukdar is a warrior for nature in every sense of the world. In 26 years of service with the forest department, he has served in virtually every forest of Assam, most notably Orang, Pabitora and, of course, the world famous Kaziranga. Wherever he was posted, rhino populations grew, habitat management improved, and grassland habitats began to regenerate. In the Orang Wildlife Sanctuary in 1990, for instance, the rhino population rose to just under 100 during his tenure, and the anti-poaching measures he instituted resulted in Orang being the only rhino habitat in Assam that had no poaching incident for over a year! When in Kaziranga, in 1995-96, he was involved in 20 skirmishes with armed poachers, who had sworn to eliminate him. Seven poachers were killed in such conflicts and huge caches of arms, ammunition and rhino horns were recovered. He was, ironically, removed from Kaziranga because he upset a politically well-connected foreign tourist by refusing him entry after hours! Currently Assistant Conservator of Forests attached to the office of the Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam, his lifetime of experience now helps in the preparation of project reports for Assam’s sanctuaries and national parks. Bhupen Talukdar is an asset to Assam, to India andto nature.