Uttarakhand government’s intention to ‘encash’ skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s brand value for the tiger conservation in the hill have fallen flat.
The star cricketer not even once visited in Uttarakhand for tiger conservation after he was appointed as Honorary Wildlife Warden for Jim Corbett National Park and brand ambassador for tiger conservation campaign in Uttarakhand by the Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank government in September 2010.
19 months down the line, government official reveals that neither Dhoni participated in the much-hyped platinum jubilee function of the Corbett National Park nor he gave any suggestion for tiger conservation.
“Dhoni did not came even once at Corbett” told RK Misha, field director CTR to Hindustan Times over phone.
“E mails were sent to one Mr Pande with Dhoni’s staff during July 2011, in which we requested for cricketer’s presence in the prestigious platinum jubilee function to be held later in 2011 but we were told Dhoni is engaged in matches abroad,” told a senior forest official.
“Earlier after his appointment in September 2011, e-mails were send to his staff asking for Dhoni’s suggestions but that were not responded” official added.
Official say although Dhoni was appointed on Honorary position that means it is not mandatory for him to attend meetings or function, nevertheless as a tradition Honorary wardens usually participates actively and give their suggestions to the government from time to time.
During his meeting with the then chief minister Nishank in Dehradun, Dhoni was quoted as saying “I look forward to the corridors of Corbett-Rajaji parks being widened and strengthened at the earliest”.
In fact Dhoni has an association with Uttarakhand. Dhoni’s ancestral home is in Almora district. His uncle and cousin still live there. Moreover Dhoni’s parents moved to Ranchi from Almora.
The skipper's wife Sakshi belongs to Dehradun. It was believed that Dhoni’s connect with state will draw attention especially for tiger conservation.
Meanwhile 19 tiger deaths had been reported in and around Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) since January 2011 due to various factors including suspected poaching and man animal conflict.
Wild life activist and another Honorary Wildlife Warden for Corbett Park, Brijendra Singh says that national park badly needs grants and help to strengthen infrastructure and that Dhoni could have done easily but “ironically nothing happened".
Corbett alone attracts 2 lakh tourists every year, which is known for rich wildlife and tiger sighting.