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Fearless forest officer & wildlife crusader K M Chinnappa passes away at 84

Born in Kumtoor in South Kodagu, he joined the forest department as an officer in 1967. As an RFO at Nagarahole, he was instrumental in ensuring protection of the sanctuary and was successful in bringing timber smuggling, cultivation of ganja inside plantations and poaching activities under control.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 10:23 IST

Madikeri: K M Chinnappa’s name has been synonymous with wildlife conservation in Karnataka. As a forest officer, he worked hard to protect Nagarahole National Park from timber mafia and poachers.

Chinnappa, who passed away at the age of 84 at his residence in Kumatoor in Ponnampet taluk on Monday, will be forever remembered as a crusader of wildlife conservation activities.

Born in Kumtoor in South Kodagu, he joined the forest department as an officer in 1967. As an RFO at Nagarahole, he was instrumental in ensuring protection of the sanctuary and was successful in bringing timber smuggling, cultivation of ganja inside plantations and poaching activities under control.

On recognition of his service, he received the Chief Minister’s gold medal in 1985.

As part of Wild Life First, he had raised his voice against timber mafia. Until recently he was working to protect forests from the destructive wildfires and was creating awareness among students on how to prevent them. He had written several books on forest and environment conservation.

Chinnappa was known for his fearlessness in protecting the dense forest lands. Several attacks on him failed to deter him in continuing his crusade to protect Nagarahole.

Most importantly, he was a rare conservationist who taught the youth about the importance of forests.

Praveen Bhargav, a close aide of Chinnappa said, “Chinnappa’s demise is a great loss to the wildlife conservation in India. He was a fearless man who helped to revive Nagarahole National Park. There is no such thing as harmonious co- existence. If wildlife has to survive in India, it will survive in areas that are free from human pressure including development. This was his message on his lifetime work."

"It will stand the test of time in India and even the next generation will talk of his work. He will be remembered even by the future generation for his work on wildlife. He has shown that the issue of people inside the forest can be resolved by offering them proper resettlement outside the national park,” said Bhargav who first met him in 1982 and considers Chinnappa as his guru.

Forest department retired secretary A C Lakshman said, “Chinnappa had a vast knowledge on forest. There was a lot to learn from him. He was a disciplined man and was not ready to compromise when it comes to protection and conservation of forest.”

Kodagu DCF Bhaskar said, "I had been to Nagarahole as a volunteer during my student life. It was Chinnappa who had trained me.” Recalling him, Bhaskar said, “Chinnappa would always say that officials should walk inside the forest rather than travel in a jeep. When we are alert while walking, even each and every leaf will teach us a lesson. His experience was vast."

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(Published 26 February 2024, 10:23 IST)

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