‘Ranger Chinnappa’ passes away at 84
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‘Ranger Chinnappa’ passes away at 84

February 26, 2024

Madikeri: Retired Forest Ranger Kotrangada M. Chinnappa, fondly known as ‘Ranger Chinnappa,’ a resident of Kumatoor Village at Srimangala in South Kodagu, passed away at 11.50 am today. He was 84 and was serving as the President of Wildlife First. Family sources said that the last rites will be held tomorrow.

Profile: Born in 1941 to a family with a military background, K.M. Chinnappa embodied the spirit of wildlife conservation. Joining the Karnataka Forest Department as a Forester in 1967, Chinnappa dedicated himself to protecting the forests and wildlife of the region. Much of his illustrious career was spent as a Ranger in Nagarahole, where he gained popularity for his unwavering commitment to upholding the law.

Chinnappa was confronted with rampant criminal activities plaguing the area, including timber smuggling, illicit drug cultivation, poaching and unauthorised brewing within the sanctuary. Determined to effect change, he embarked on a mission to restore order and safeguard natural habitats of wild animals.

Expansion of Nagarahole

Under Chinnappa’s leadership, the population of endangered species such as tigers and deer, which had been dwindling dangerously low, experienced a remarkable resurgence. He tirelessly pursued encroachers, reclaimed forest land and oversaw the expansion of the sanctuary from its initial 250 sq.km to an impressive 653 sq.km.

However, his relentless pursuit of wildlife conservation made him a target for hostility. Chinnappa faced numerous threats to his life, narrowly escaping a violent attack in 1970.

Despite his dedication, he was unfairly labelled as a criminal and had to relinquish his licenced revolver. False accusations of murder further tarnished his reputation, leading to a harrowing ordeal in prison before being exonerated by the court of law.

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In 1992, his newly constructed home in Kumatoor was set ablaze by an angry mob. Despite the adversities, Chinnappa persevered, ultimately resigning from his position in 1993. His contributions to wildlife conservation were recognised with the CM’s Gold Medal in 1985, a testament to his unwavering commitment.

Continued service even after retirement

He received the Wildlife Conservation Society Certificate of Appreciation in 1988 and the Tiger Link Bagh Sevak Award in 1996. He has also received the ESSO and the Sanctuary Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2000 and 2006 respectively. In 2009, he was awarded the prestigious CNN-IBN Real Heroes Award. Chinnappa donated his entire prize money of Rs. 7.5 lakh from all these awards and recognitions to the cause of wildlife conservation.

Since retirement, Chinnappa trained more than 2,500 Forest protection staff in anti-poaching operations and fire protection. He continued to fight for protection of Nagarahole and other Reserves in the Western Ghats till his very end.

He reached more than 1,50,000 school children, teachers, rural youth and villagers with a strong wildlife conservation message through nature camps, slide shows, talks, rallies and interactions.

Book on legend

‘Kaadinolagondu Jeeva,’ a book based on first-hand experiences of Chinnappa  is seeing its seventh edition in print. The book, written by T.S. Gopal, retired Principal of Srimangala Junior College, was published by Poornachandra Tejaswi Prakashana in 2000 and it was an instant hit. The 400-page book has 14 pages of colourful photos and has many stories and experiences of Chinnappa.

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