Davidar, one of the founders of the Sigur Nature Trust died recently. Mark’s closeness with animals was not his only contribution to wildlife conservation. Most importantly he cared about the Sigur Nature Trust, a place of unique importance because it allows the passage of wildlife on private land in between two villages, near the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. The Sigur Nature Trust was founded by E.R.C. Davidar and his children, Priya, Mark and Peter. For more than 20 years Mark made sure that animals could cross and not be hampered by much human presence.
After he worked with Rom Whittaker at the Snake Park in Chennai, Mark established a small guest house in the family premises. One of Mark’s friends said he was like a dictator: he would not allow telephone, torches, noise. People had to obey strict rules to enjoy the marvels of nature from the safety of the veranda. It was an exceptional vantage point of view for education, a sort of real-life interpretation center.
The experiment Mark developed over more than two decades is of particular significance. The Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve where the Trust is located, is of central standing to the conservation network of southern India. It harbors one of the largest population of Asian elephant in the world and a lot of tigers as well. We can only hope that this region of exceptional beauty and biological wealth will develop into a flagship of outstanding environmental management in Asia.
To mitigate the human – wildlife conflict, we need a multitude of novel and bold experiments. Take Mark’s modest guest house for example. It can be an inspiration for the entire eco-tourism industry because it was a model on how not to disturb wildlife and still enjoy it.
Mark demonstrated we can live at peace with wildlife. We, as a family, share this vision. We will pursue the mission where Mark left it, as well as we can. The Sigur Nature Trust is a living experiment destined to create a vision for the future, based on a peaceful and knowledgeable interaction with nature. All of Mark friends can rest assured that “Mark’s place” will remain as it is. The elephants will continue to be at home. And our most fervent wish is that other people get inspired by what he has achieved and helped the Trust to achieve. For this, we are immensely grateful.