A Rare Species: An Officer Who Left His First-Class Post in Mumbai to Become a Forest Ranger in Gujarat

Dr Rajan Jadav, serving as range forest officer in Babariya, had exposed illegal lion shows being carried out in and around the Gir forest.

Ahmedabad: Wildlife conservationists across the country were in a state of shock last year after a video of lion-show organisers from Gujarat went viral. The clip showed two persons, standing a few feet away from a lioness, in a farm in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. One of them, with a hen in hand, was teasing the animal.

After the incident in May 2018, the Gujarat government promised to take action against illegal lion show organisers around Gir forest, which is the last abode of Asiatic lions.

But not many are aware of Dr Rajan Jadav, Babariya Range Forest Officer, who had exposed the illegal show and caught the accused red-handed. Jadav pursued the case till the end -- the Gujarat High Court recently refused to grant bail to Iliyas Adreman Hoth, who reportedly owned the farm where the show took place.

Jadav’s story is unusual and inspiring -- unlike most government officers who prefer to switch jobs for better opportunities or higher positions, he did the complete opposite. A native of Rajkot, he was recently transferred to Kevadiya in Narmada district.

Jadav in 2016 left his class-one officer’s job in Mumbai to join the Gujarat Forest Department as a forest ranger, a class-two officer’s job. Before joining as probationary Range Forest Officer, he was posted as director (training) at the All India Institute of Local Self-Government in Mumbai and was entitled to all the facilities and perks equivalent to those received by an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer.

Jadav’s decision to take a job that was considered a step-down surprised many colleagues and friends, who advised him to think before leaving the post.

But Jadav did not think twice to follow his basic instinct.

“As director (training) at AIILSG, my role was to strengthen the urban local bodies across the country for various government schemes, such as cleanliness and prepare policy framework,” Jadav told News18. “As a ranger, I am doing the complete opposite, but it is very important work, which is to execute the policy made by the government.”

Jadav holds a Ph.D in ‘Ecology Status and Importance of Grassland (Vidis) in Conservation of Avifauna of Saurashtra Region’. He holds two bachelor’s degrees -- in biotechnology another in zoology. Jadav was also invited to present a paper at an international conference organised by the Ecological Society of America in the United States in 2007.

“As a researcher, you may find lacuna in functioning of any government departments, but researchers can’t change it,” he said. “Only officers who execute plans can bring about change in the fields. So, I preferred to leave the class-one officer’s job to become a ranger and I am enjoying it.”

Jadav’s new assignment at Kevadiya includes developing a new zoo near the Statue of Unity in Narmada district.

“I was never a studious student and never bothered about my life and job. Everything comes naturally to me and I have accepted it,” said Jadav. “I am very grateful to my late father -- he died on the same day (April 14, 2018) when I joined as range forest officer after training for 18 months. He never forced me to do anything and gave me full freedom and space to live my life.”

“Nature is very dynamic and l keep learning from it,” added Jadav. “As long as I keep learning, I will be better able to serve nature.”

The state forest department can look forward to better things as long as such officers, who leave behind their daily comforts to serve nature, are available.