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An Indian couple have been buying land next to a tiger reserve to let the forest spread and thrive

7 min read

Good Stuff

Over the past 20 years, Aditya and Poonam Singh have been buying up land, allowing the neighbouring tiger reserve to expand and remain untouched by new developments. Today, the area has become a lush green forest where tigers, leopards, and wild boars roam free.

Photographer buys land and lets it grow wild, attracting tigers and other animals

Photographer Aditya “Dicky” Singh quit his comfortable civil service job, left Delhi with his wife Poonam, and moved to Sawai Madhopur city in Rajasthan just outside Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, to be closer to nature. Over the last 20 years, the Singhs have bought around 35 acres (15 hectares) of land worth over Rs 10 million (€117,160/$134,426/£102,290), which shares its boundary with Ranthambore tiger reserve, and have subsequently left the land completely undisturbed. — The landholding is now a lush green forest patch that is frequented by a variety of wild animals, including tigers, throughout the year. Singh has been approached by serious buyers for his land on numerous occasions, but his love for nature and wildlife is more important to him than money. Instead, he has inspired many others who own land around his to follow suit and yet more across India who want to emulate the same model.

The Singhs slowly started buying land parcels adjacent to each other just outside the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve’s boundary, and leaving the land untouched to return to its original wild state.
Aditya “Dicky” Singh quit his civil service job to be closer to nature. The Singhs slowly started buying land parcels adjacent to each other just outside the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve’s boundary, and leaving the land untouched to return to its original wild state. Source: Instagram/dickysingh

“It was a dream that we both saw an achieved together to have our own area of wilderness,”

It was Aditya “Dicky” Singh’s love for nature and wildlife that led him to quit his cushy Indian civil service job, leave his comfortable house in Delhi and settle with his wife Poonam in a remote corner of Rajasthan, right next door to the famous Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, in 1998. Over the last 20 years, Singh has been buying tracts of land adjacent to Ranthambore and simply letting the forest grow back.

After relocating to Sawai Madhopur, a small city near Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR), Singh took up photography. He and Poonam opened a tourist resort there to earn their living. Unlike many tourism establishments who want unrestricted access into the wild areas, the Singhs slowly began buying parcels of land adjacent to each other just outside the RTR’s boundary.

“The area is called Bhadlav. I had first gone to this area soon after settling in Ranthambore, along with a BBC filmmaker. This area adjacent to the boundary of the Ranthambore reserve was visited by predators like tigers who used to come for prey. As a result, farmers were selling their land,” Singh told Mongabay-India.

Poonam remembers how it was love at first sight for her when she visited Ranthambore with Aditya. “My first sighting was a tigress with three cubs on a hill. It was magical. At the end of the trip, I just asked him if we can move to Ranthambore. He wanted it too and within months we moved. As far as this land is concerned, it was a dream that we both saw an achieved together to have our own area of wilderness,” she told Mongabay. Poonam, an artist by profession, managed the resort with Aditya for twenty years until they closed it down in 2019.

They now own about 35 acres of land in Bhadlav, another five acres a few hundred metres away and a strip of land connecting the two.

Source: Mongabay-India

The patch of forest now attracts wild animals such as tiger, sambar and wild boars on the edge of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. Photo by Aditya Singh.
Aerial view of the land transformed by the Singhs. The patch of forest now attracts wild animals such as tiger, sambar and wild boars on the edge of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. Photo by Aditya Singh. Source: AdityaSingh/qz.com

“Money was never the consideration. It is just about my love for nature and wildlife,”

“I just bought this and did nothing to it except removing the invasive species. We allowed the land to recover and now after 20 years it has become a lush green patch of forest which is frequently visited by all kind of animals, including tigers, leopards and wild boars, throughout the year,” Singh told visiting Mongabay-India staff writer, Mayank Aggarwal.

In an aerial shot he had captured, Singh points to their land parcel — a lush green expanse compared to the barren land of the Ranthambore tiger reserve with which his landholding shares the boundary. He has also created several water holes in the landholding to ensure that the wild animals get water even during summers.

As a result, the pressure of predators like tigers from the RTR venturing into fields of farmers has gone down. “It is simply because the animals understand that in this patch of the forest they get prey, water and safe shelter without any disturbance,” said Singh.

At present, India has 50 tiger reserves. Ranthambore is among the country’s biggest and most famous tiger reserves, with an estimated population of about 60 tigers.

During a freewheeling conversation with Mongabay-India, Singh admitted that he is often subjected to questions for not carrying out any project on his land which is now well worth over Rs. 10 million (Rs. one crore) despite getting so many proposals.

“Money was never the consideration. It is just about my love for nature and wildlife. Instead, these days I am getting queries from people across India who want to replicate a similar model in their state,” he said.

The Singhs are not done with this dream. Aditya Singh says wants to buy more land adjacent to his fields, especially the agriculture field next to his land and inspire others in the area to follow suit.

The couple’s side project, a new home and homestay that’s in progress, is going to run on solar and wind power where too they are creating two small water holes on the fence of the house so that thirsty animals can get water during summers.

Source: Mongabay-India 

“Spring in Ranthambhore is lovely. It's the bridge between the incredible pastel colours and low temperatures of winter and the uncomfortable heat of summer. All the flowers around the park begin to bloom and the trees begin to change colour. It was on a beautiful day like this that my friend Andy Rouse and I had an incredible encounter with Noor and her cubs from her last litter.”
Freedom for this feline family. “Spring in Ranthambhore is lovely. It’s the bridge between the incredible pastel colours and low temperatures of winter and the uncomfortable heat of summer. All the flowers around the park begin to bloom and the trees begin to change colour. It was on a beautiful day like this that my friend Andy Rouse and I had an incredible encounter with Noor and her cubs from her last litter.” Source: Instagram/DickySingh
Tigresses will spend nearly 70% of their time nursing their cubs for the first few days following birth. The amount of time spent nursing reduces to about 30% of their day by the time the cubs are a month old. The tigress stimulates the cub's circulation and bowel movements by spending large periods of time licking them.
Tigresses are overly cautious and secretive when caring for young cubs as she is solely responsible for the protection and care of her young for the first few months of the cubs’ lives. Tigresses will spend nearly 70% of their time nursing their cubs for the first few days following birth. The amount of time spent nursing reduces to about 30% of their day by the time the cubs are a month old. The tigress stimulates the cub’s circulation and bowel movements by spending large periods of time licking them. Source: Instagram/DickySingh
Ranthambore is among the country’s biggest and most famous tiger reserves, with an estimated population of about 60 tigers.
At present, India has 50 tiger reserves. Ranthambore is among the country’s biggest and most famous tiger reserves, with an estimated population of about 60 tigers. Source: Instagram/DickySingh
“I enter the park with 3 camera bodies. On one of the bodies (D500) I attach the new Nikon 500mm F/5.6E PF lens. It's an incredible lens that's so light that shooting it hand held at a low shutter speed is no issue at all. Moreover, with the 1.5 crop of the D500 it becomes a 750mm lens. Great for getting really close for some close up portraits.”
Up close with Dicky Singh. “I enter the park with 3 camera bodies. On one of the bodies (D500) I attach the new Nikon 500mm F/5.6E PF lens. It’s an incredible lens that’s so light that shooting it hand held at a low shutter speed is no issue at all. Moreover, with the 1.5 crop of the D500 it becomes a 750mm lens. Great for getting really close for some close up portraits.” Source: Instagram/DickySingh
Aditya Singh says wants to buy more land adjacent to his fields, especially the agriculture field next to his land and inspire others in the area to follow suit.
The Singhs are not done with their dream. Aditya Singh says wants to buy more land adjacent to his fields, especially the agriculture field next to his land and inspire others in the area to follow suit. Source: Instagram/DickySingh
Poonam Singh is an astute entrepreneur, a natural expert at guest relations, a qualified sculptor and a trained fashion designer. She is well known for the warm hospitality, attention to detail and personal touch, all meted out with a warm smile. Born and brought up in New Delhi, she moved with her husband Aditya to Ranthambhore in 1998.
Poonam Singh: Poonam Singh is an astute entrepreneur, a natural expert at guest relations, a qualified sculptor and a trained fashion designer. She is well known for the warm hospitality, attention to detail and personal touch, all meted out with a warm smile. Born and brought up in New Delhi, she moved with her husband Aditya to Ranthambhore in 1998. Source: Ranthambhore.com
Click link for gallery?
Ranthambore has a gallery of stunning tiger photos. Click link for gallery? Source: DickySingh/Ranthambhore.net
Photographer buys land and lets it grow wild, attracts tigers and other animals Photographer Aditya Singh quit his civil service job within a year of joining, left Delhi and moved to Sawai Madhopur city in Rajasthan just outside Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, to be closer to nature. Source: YouTube/Mongabay-India

More Tigers!

For hundreds more stunning photos of tigers check out Ranthambore | photo gallery | Instagram | Dicky Singh

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