Thakur Devi Singh Ranawat, fondly known as 'Kunoo' by close friends and family, was born and brought up in Bera, a small village in the Pali district of Rajasthan which is famous for Leopard sightings. Thakur Devi Singh has been very close to nature and wildlife since his early childhood. He always accompanied his father, Late Thakur Jangjeet Singh, in jungle drives especially leopard safaris. Thakur Jangjeet Singh was the last of the Thakurs, who had judicial powers and was a host to many royal families and nobilties, who visited Bera for celebrations and family gatherings.
Thakur Devi Singh has been studying leopards in the area for the last 25 years and he was the first person to have spotted a leopard with blue eyes in the area which happened in December 2012 and thereafter kept a track of the wild cat. The area houses around 35-40 leopards, which according to International Union for Conservation of Nature, is a threatened specie. Thakur Devi Singh soon realised that the population of leopards was slowly diminishing in the area. To his utter surprise, he found that they were being poisoned by the nomadic shepherds as the leopards were hunting down their cattle.
This became a matter of concern for him as he simply couldn't let the big cats perish. Since the leopard is not a part of any protected forest, loses suffered by the shepherds are not reimbursed by the government. This leaves the shepherds with no alternatives but to kill the animal by poisoning which seemingly is the easiest possible way. This is where Thakur Devi Singh came forward and compensated the shepherds for their loss from his own pocket. He has also created a awareness among the villagers about the endangered cat and taught them to live in harmony with them. Thanks to his personal intervention, compared to the other regions in the country, man- animal conflicts reported in this area are almost negligible. As if this was not enough, he faced another challenge when granite mining started in this area which is full of granite hills. Mining poses a serious threat to the fragile eco system of the region as these hills have small cavities which act as a good hideouts for many animals including leopards which rapid mining activities were destroying. With sheer determination and due diligence and help from few supporters including H.H. Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji of Jodhpur, Shrimati Vasundhara Raje, Shri Shatrunjay Pratap Singh the mining licences got cancelled and prevailed peace again for wild animals.
Thakur Devi Singh has been protecting the natural habitat of the leopards and other animals of the area by creating awareness about them. His efforts and hard work have not only increased the number of leopards in the area but have also put Bera and Jawai on the national and international map. His incessant hard work has bore fruits and international fraternity has started taking interest in the local wildlife. He has been a host to many foreign media and wildlife crews like BBC, Animal Planet and National Geographic to shoot documentaries on the leopards of Bera under his supreme guidance.