Wildlife conservationist, biologist AJT Johnsingh no more

Updated - June 08, 2024 08:32 am IST

Published - June 07, 2024 06:23 pm IST - TIRUNELVELI

A. J. T. Johnsingh.

A. J. T. Johnsingh. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Noted Indian wildlife biologist and leading conservationist Asir Jawahar Thomas Johnsingh, popularly known as AJT Johnsingh among wildlife enthusiasts, passed away in Bengaluru at 1 a.m. on Friday after a brief illness. He was 78. He is survived by two sons – former Indian Air Force Officer and pilot Mike and software engineer Merwin.

 Johnsingh will be laid to rest next to the tomb of his wife Kousalya at Dohnavur close to the Western Ghats near Kalakkad, here.

 A statement from Johnsingh’s family said India’s bravest green warrior and staunch defender of earth’s flora and fauna had passed on to his final home. “We can’t hear his voice anymore but we can hear him in the chirp of every bird, roar of every tiger and trumpet of every tusker. Generous beyond comparison and teacher beyond equal, we the Johnsingh family know that he has left behind legacy difficult to match in the world of conservation,” the statement said.

 “AJT, a native of Nanguneri in the district, inherited his passion for wildlife from his father and became a good naturalist with keen sense of animals’ behavior. I had the opportunity to learn a lot from him in the field. His down to earth attitude towards wildlife conservation and his achievements are well known,” says Albert Rajendran, former professor of St. John’s College, Palayamkottai.

 After his schooling, Johnsingh did B.Sc. in zoology in St. Xavier’s College here he was moulded by Mr. Albert’s father Rajendran, then professor of Zoology, who guided him to do his post-graduation in Madras Christian College, Tambaram.

 After working as a lecturer in Ayya Nadar Janaki Ammal College in Sivakasi for about four years and traversing the Western Ghats in this region, especially in Srivilliputhur, Johnsingh moved to Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, where a number of Indian Forest Service officers have done their diploma in wildlife under his guidance. He served as the Dean of the WII.

 The vertebrate ecologist’s study of the dhole in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, was perhaps the first study of a free-ranging animal by an Indian wildlife biologist, says Dr. Albert. He was instrumental in the merger of the Kalakkad and Mundanthurai divisions of the tiger sanctuary into the Kalakkad – Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in 1988.

 “His suggestions for conserving the elephant corridors connecting Agasthiyamalai to Periyar tiger reserve are being gradually translated into action now,” Dr. Albert said.

 He has received various awards including Padma Shri Award for his exemplary work.

CM condoles death

Chief Minister M. K. Stalin on Friday condoled the death of A. J. T. Johnsingh.

Tamil Nadu lost a leading light today, Dr. A.J.T. Johnsingh, a luminary in wildlife conservation, Mr. Stalin said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

Johnsingh’s humility, compassion, and dedication to science-based conservation will continue to guide us. Heartfelt tributes and deepest condolences to his family and loved ones, he added.

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