Wildlife and animals have always been a central part of Ratna Singh's life. She grew up on a family farm in a small village in central India, and although she went away to boarding school at a very young age, she would come home during her vacations and often spend a few days at nearby Bandhavgarh National Park, famous for its wild tigers. Ratna went on to study history at university, then did graduate work in international law with an emphasis on human rights and refugee law. Following the completion of her studies, she spent three years working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross, where she worked primarily with Afghan refugees.
Yet, Ratna's affinity for animals eventually drew her back to the Indian wilds. What she thought would be a year's sabbatical as a safari guide in 2006 turned into a seven-year guiding stint in the jungles of central India. Ratna was the first female full-time naturalist guide at one of India's top safari lodges and ultimately became head naturalist overseeing a team of naturalist guides at three different lodges. She was a finalist for TOFT (Travel Operators for Tigers)'s Best Naturalist in India award in 2012. And now, while Ratna still guides Nat Hab guests in various Indian national parks, she also recruits and trains naturalist guides for our local Indian safari operator. She is committed to ecotourism as part of her passion for conservation and community development, and will forever be connected to the jungle. "I don't think I could survive in the city," she says.