Poacher: Is Vijay Babu Based on an Actual Forest Officer?

Amazon Prime Video’s crime drama series ‘Poacher’ succeeds in captivating its viewers with its honest narrative, emphasizing the core principle that animal lives are as significant and valuable as human lives, warranting protection. Numerous characters in the series are committed to this cause, working tirelessly to ensure poachers and related individuals face justice. Vijay Babu, portrayed as one such character, is depicted with sincerity in his story. Given the authenticity of the narrative, it is not surprising to discover that Vijay Babu is based on a real person!

Vijay Babu is Inspired by K.P. Sunil Kumar

In the series, Vijay Babu is initially portrayed as a negligent officer who dismisses the whistleblower’s information, characterizing him as a “lazy officer.” However, a different facet of his character emerges as the narrative unfolds. He demonstrates genuine concern for the forest watcher Aruku as he advises him to prioritize self-care and avoid associations that could jeopardize his life. Babu evolves as a loyal individual who learns from his mistakes and commits himself wholeheartedly to the cause everyone is fighting for.

The events depicted in the series closely mirror the 2015 ivory poaching case and the character of Babu is loosely inspired by the real-life Deputy Range Officer K.P. Sunil Kumar. In the actual incident, a 62-year-old watcher named Kunjumon Devasey walked into the Karimbani range office and informed officers that a group of poachers had killed around 20 elephants in the last two years. Initially, Kumar dismissed the man, suggesting he had gone crazy and asking him to “go and see a psychiatrist.” However, upon the watcher’s insistence, he ordered a basic investigation and recorded Devasey’s statement.

When Devasey insisted on being taken seriously, Kumar arrested him and falsely implicated him in the killing of an elephant calf. This was quite ironic since Devasey was left unsettled by the cries of a baby elephant. He alleged that one of the poachers had killed a baby elephant while they were on one of their excursions and even though he had tried to stop him, the former didn’t listen to him.

However, when news of this incident leaked, senior forest officers initiated a thorough investigation not only into the poaching but also into the actions of the state forest officers, including Kumar. He was later suspended and found guilty of significant lapses in the investigation. The details of the subsequent investigation and the actions taken are not well-documented, but by 2018, he was promoted to the position of Range Forest Officer. As of 2023, Kumar serves as an Assistant Wildlife Warden of Tholppetty Forest range, located in Wayanad, Kerala.

Vijay Babu’s character, though creatively embellished with elements like a romantic subplot, echoes the dedication of the real-life forest officer Kumar. The series introduces him as a seemingly apathetic officer, but as the narrative progresses, he transforms into a committed advocate for wildlife protection. While certain aspects may be fictionalized, Kumar’s commitment to his role remains consistent. The portrayal may take creative liberties but the core narrative aligns with the theme of redemption and commitment, resonating with the broader message of the series.

Read More: Poacher: Is Morris Finn Inspired by a Real Ivory Dealer? Where is He Now?