Most of you might be knowing about Vasco-De-Gama – one who discovered India via sea route but does anyone know about Vasco-De-Gama of Udaipur? If not, then I am glad to introduce Raza H. Tehsin, a man who dedicated his life to preserve rich wildlife of Udaipur region and who is rightly known as Vasco-De-Gama of Udaipur. He is a real life hero of whom Udaipur should be proud.
Raza H. Tehsin is son of a famous hunter T.H.Tehsin, who turned conservationist later. Due to parental business of arms and ammunition and his father’s passion for hunting, Raza grew up amidst jungles and wild animals. This inculcated an emotional sense of closeness towards nature and knowledge of indigenous herbs. Till date, Raza has traveled through most of the forests in Southern Rajasthan on foot.
In the post- independence era, he started taking care of the family’s extensive mining operations in the hills around Udaipur. He stayed alone in vast ranges of Aravali exploring forests. On observing the unbridled destruction of forests and wildlife due to commercial poaching and spread of human population, he decided to move his feet towards wildlife protection and conservation.
His accomplishments and contributions:
- Participation in the establishment of late game sanctuaries like Phulwari-Ki-Nal, Sitamata & Sajjangarh.
- He has reported, for the first time, around 14 species from above region, like Flying Squirrel, Mouse Deer, Snow Trout Fish, Albino Common Mongoose, Rusty Spotted Cat, Albino Squirrel, Lesser Flamingos, Baikal Teal, Three-Toed Kingfisher, White Bellied Miniwit, White Eared Bulbul, Green Heron, Flat Worm and Bittern Bird.
- He pioneered in protection of a 400 year old Kalp Vriksh (Adinsonia Digitata) during the extension of Government Hospital Building.
- He is one of the early naturalists of India to study the effects of Solar Eclipse on fauna.
- He drew public attention to the free export of frogs, which prevent malaria which resulted in its ban by the Government of Rajasthan.
- He demanded a ban on the slaughter of Jackals highlighting their role as scavengers, which resulted in the up-gradation of this animal to Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act.
- In a landmark achievement he convinced the tribal population around Udaipur to leave the practice of Mass Hunting – ‘Aida’.
- He has also been one of the first to raise his voice against the declining vulture population.
- Australian Geographic funded a project to study his reporting of the Himalayan Fish Snow Trout from Rajasthan. It is the first live biological evidence that the mythological Saraswati River once flowed through the desert of Rajasthan before the geographical isolation.
- He has provided research guidance and project assistance to students not only from India but from other countries as well.
- Limca Book of Records (1996) carries his name for a survey conducted by him to ascertain the quantity of spit being spat by tobacco chewers in India every year.
Appearance in Publications, Print Media and Television
- He has authored more than 60 research notes and papers in International and National journals like Tiger Paper (issued by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation), Journal of Bombay Natural History Society, Cheetal, Zoo’s Print Journal, Newsletter for Birdwatcher, Indian Forester, Hornbill.
- Raza’s articles have appeared in Books like Environmental Studies book of NCERT (Central Board syllabus for schools in India), Man Now Competes with Scavengers and Shikari Shikar Jungle Se Pyar (Hindi) and Magazines like Dharamyug and Mystic India.
- The first book of a Wildlife Edutainment Series for children written by him and his daughter Arifa Tehsin is published by UNICORN BOOKS, a sister concern of PUSTAK MAHAL.
- Hundreds of news articles, news items, features and interviews on him have appeared in national and regional newspapers like The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, Indian Express, The Statesman, Pioneer, The Patriot, Dainik Navjyoti, Rajasthan Patrika, Dainik Bhaskar etc.
- He is frequently invited for talk shows on TV and radio channels and has been covered by TV channels like National Geographic, India TV, Star News, ETV and Channel 24.
He has been awarded by Dept. of Forest, Govt. of Rajasthan, Wildlife Conservation Society of India, Ajmer and Udaipur Chapter of WWF. Jyotish Mahavidyalaya, Roorkee honored him by Ph.D. Beside this his true reward is preserved natural lineage surrounding Mewar region. He is also giving treatment to people affected by Leucoderma since past 40 years.
People like Raza H. Tehsin are precious gems who shine by their dedicated efforts and this article is just a small tribute to him from Udaipurtimes.