Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder & CEO, Wildlife SOS

(Wildlife SOS)

Kartick Satyanarayan—also known as the Bear Man of India—has already spent a exceptional 25 years of his life (and counting) for the conservation of wildlife in India. From spending full moon nights on a tree wild animals as a toddler to being a saviour of injured wildlife throughout India, Kartick’s journey is a story of inspiration for each nature lover. A fascination for nature from a really younger age impressed Kartick to turn into a wildlife conservationist. Together with Geeta Seshamani, he based the Wildlife SOS in India—an NGO that works for the rescue and rehabilitation of untamed animals like elephants, bears and leopards from throughout the nation.

At Wildlife SOS, the group not solely rescues animals but in addition supplies them with medical amenities and pure dwelling settings. For this helpful and relentless work to guard wildlife, Kartick has been bestowed with a number of awards just like the San Diego Zoo World Conservation Medal for Conservation in Motion and the Maharana Udai Singh Award in 2019.

On the event of World Wildlife Day, The Climate Channel India spoke to this ‘EcoGuardian’ in an unique interview, whereby Kartick takes us by way of his journey as a champion for nature.

What impressed you to start out Wildlife SOS again in 1995? Please inform us the way it started and the way the preliminary years have been.

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder, Wildlife SOS

Kartick with one of many elephants on the rescue centre.

(Wildlife SOS)

I spent a big a part of my childhood within the midst of nature. Whereas rising up, I by no means missed a chance to spend time watching birds and animals in parks and wooded areas close to my Bangalore dwelling. I used to be awestruck by the great thing about the pure world and the wild animals round us. Butterflies, snakes, tigers, bears, frogs, leopards—all fascinated me equally.

Ultimately, I discovered myself sneaking out of my home to spend full moon nights sitting on bushes overlooking a water gap within the forests on the outskirts of Bangalore. That is the place I’d conceal myself to watch wild elephants, bison, leopards, bears and different wildlife come to the water gap to drink. These have been my biology classes rising up, which additionally created my most memorable experiences, inspiring me to turn into a wildlife conservationist to guard India’s endangered wildlife.

Whereas I used to be misplaced in the great thing about our pure heritage, I used to be additionally appalled on the extreme intolerance that folks flaunted to the presence of wildlife of their environment. These animals have been shedding their properties and habitats to fast urbanisation, and their forest properties now stood fragmented with railway traces, roads, buildings, electrical traces, and so forth. What alarmed me most was the poaching of wildlife and habitat destruction that was doing irreversible and widespread harm to India’s fragile ecosystems.

It felt like an emergency scenario, an actual SOS for India’s forests, for wildlife and for me. That’s what pushed me to start out Wildlife SOS with co-founder Geeta Seshamani to assist India’s wildlife.

Have there been any notable experiences which have stood out from the remainder on this 25-year-old journey? We’d love to listen to some!

One of the oldest bears under the care of Wildlife SOS, Gail is a gentle and reserved bear who can be spotted licking pasted honey off her enrichment log.  (Wildlife SOS)

One of many oldest bears underneath the care of Wildlife SOS, Gail is a delicate and reserved bear who might be noticed licking pasted honey off her enrichment log.

(Wildlife SOS/Shresatha Pachori)

My expertise with the ‘Dancing Bear’ mission left a long-lasting impression on me on this lengthy journey. Each single profitable conservation observe until date has labored provided that group and stakeholder participation helps it.

We realised proper originally that if we needed to assist implement India’s wildlife legal guidelines to eradicate the unlawful and brutal observe of Dancing Bears, we needed to work with the nomadic group that relied on the bears for a livelihood. The observe of bear dancing was being handed down from era to era, thereby stopping children locally to entry schooling. We needed to make sure a vivid future for youthful generations whereas making certain sustainable safety of bears.

What appeared like many insurmountable obstacles have been extra like classes for us. Geeta and I investigated the unlawful observe of dancing sloth bears from 1995 to 1997. We travelled for weeks spending days on railway platforms and in fields, stayed with households of their makeshift shelters and learnt all we might about them and the endangered sloth bears that the Kalandar group have been utilizing to achieve perception into their lives.

Our report was revealed in 1997 and submitted to the Govt. of India. This bought us assist and cooperation from the govt.. and began us off on the trail to determine the world’s largest rehabilitation heart for sloth bears in Agra. We ultimately rescued over 628 bears whereas offering livelihood and schooling assist for over 3000 households.

The method of Wildlife SOS was to empower ladies, educate youngsters and create different livelihoods for the Kalandar group so they’d by no means have to return to exploiting wild bears ever once more. We helped over 7600 youngsters entry schooling, which helped change the way forward for the group. We additionally employed children from the group in our tasks.

These numbers aren’t simply statistics, however absolute proof that something might be achieved so long as the issue is approached with persistence, ardour, compassion and a broad-minded method that features group and stakeholder participation.

You might have established a number of rescue centres throughout India—centres that even maintain wild animals like elephants, leopards and bears. How does the rescue course of happen?

India's first elephant hospital. (Wildlife SOS)

India’s first elephant hospital.

(Mrigakshi Dixit)

Each rescue operation often begins with a telephone name on the Wildlife SOS hotline, following which we quickly collect knowledge on the scenario, location and species. Typically, the Forest Division or Police contact us once they obtain a name from native villagers. Following this, a Wildlife SOS Speedy Response Unit group consisting of veterinary medical doctors, para-veterinary workers and rescuers is dispatched to the placement with the required medical and rescue tools in hand.

There isn’t a lot time to react as a result of the animal is in a life-threatening situation and the window to avoid wasting the animal and get it out of hazard could be very small.

Due to the immense stress on the animal, they are often defensive, which implies our rescue group must be ready to take care of an indignant hyena or a cornered leopard in a relaxed method.

Crowd management can be a serious a part of our rescue efforts. We request the Police, Forest Division and legislation enforcement businesses to assist with this.

After we obtain calls in our Delhi, Agra or Gurgaon hotlines, reminiscent of snakes being noticed inside residences, we dispatch rescuers to the placement primarily based on the provision of the group members. Wildlife SOS Speedy Response unit contact in NCR Delhi is 9871963535.

And are the animals despatched again to the wild post-recovery?

It’s the goal of Wildlife SOS to return each wild animal again within the wild after rescue, remedy and restoration. Numerous animals now we have rescued through the years have been launched again within the wild post-recovery. That mentioned, in some instances, if the animals usually are not licensed by the veterinarians as match for launch within the wild, then in these unlucky instances, we attempt to rehabilitate such animals in massive forested enclosures at Wildlife SOS rescue and rehabilitation centres.

What’s the most difficult a part of the general rescue-rehabilitation course of?

Elephant at the care centre of WIldlife SOS. (WIldlife SOS)

Elephant on the care centre of Wildlife SOS.

(Wildlife SOS)

Essentially the most difficult facets of the rescue and rehabilitation course of is coping with human beings—crowd management on the rescue location or coping with an unruly mob that’s hell-bent on bludgeoning an injured hyena or a snake whereas we’re battling to avoid wasting its life!

Different challenges embrace funds to purchase medicines, medical tools, animal ambulance autos, land to assist rescue and supply remedy to rescued animals.

We additionally face irritating moments like when poachers and wildlife criminals use loopholes within the legislation to flee punishment for his or her crimes.

Scarcity of veterinary tools, autos, medicines and sources for educating the general public about wildlife is a problem that’s there continually. It’s additionally extraordinarily difficult to run a non-profit organisation and to search out folks dedicated to the trigger. Creating public consciousness is one other trial.

Animals in India are inclined to face harsh remedy and even abuse when used for conventional or non secular practices of kinds. Is there a approach to cease this from occurring?

An orphaned baby Rhesus Macaque, rescued by our Rapid Response Unit in Agra, holds onto one of our animal keeper’s after gobbling down a fresh platter of watermelons. (Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak)

An orphaned child Rhesus Macaque, rescued by our Speedy Response Unit in Agra, holds onto one of many animal keeper’s after wolfing down a recent platter of watermelons

(Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak)

It’s relatively appalling to see animals being abused in a rustic the place they’re additionally revered and prayed to. Animals are related to Gods in Indian mythology, but it’s stunning to watch conventional practices being misinterpreted by folks. Owls sacrificed throughout Diwali, Bear bile and gall bladders being utilized in conventional medication, genital organs of crocodiles, tigers, snakes used as aphrodisiacs! The listing is lengthy and, fairly frankly, disgusting! Superstitions coupled with ignorance is killing our wildlife.

One approach to tackle that is with schooling and consciousness. Individuals should be made conscious of scientific details. Delusion-busting will assist carry these barbaric practices to an finish. After all, that is simpler mentioned than completed. The trail forward is difficult, however at Wildlife SOS, we is not going to relaxation till now we have made a distinction.

What, in your opinion, is the most important risk to wildlife in India at current?

The largest risk to wildlife in India is the exploding human inhabitants and human greed that’s inflicting fast growth, fragmentation and erosion of forests, and pure habitats resulting in extreme battle. Poaching can be a extreme risk mixed with public ignorance of legal guidelines and the way necessary these inexperienced areas are.

What has been your largest studying on this journey thus far? Is there any knowledge or message that you simply want to share with our readers?

Kartick with the rescued animals. (Wildlife SOS)

Kartick with the rescued animals.

(Wildlife SOS)

My largest studying is that we mustn’t ever take nature without any consideration. She is beneficiant with what she provides, however we’ll endure her wrath if we proceed to be ungrateful and abuse nature and her sources.

Individuals should be taught to coexist in concord with not solely different people, but in addition the bushes, animals and all the weather that exist round us in nature. We should be taught to worth them as items of Mom Nature for what they convey to our lives, as an alternative of considering of them as opponents for nature’s sources, or worse nonetheless as one thing to be manipulated, exploited and utilised. Over time, as pure habitats and forested lands have been encroached upon by people, wild animals have been pushed to outlive on extra restricted territories. Their forest base has decreased, and their prey base has shrunk attributable to city growth and harmful agricultural practices.

Particular person acts of compassionate conservation are extraordinarily necessary throughout these powerful occasions. To stop additional conditions like these, all of us need to work collectively. The bottom line is to stay related to nature. What are we giving again? Volunteering at wildlife rescue facilities, animal shelters, serving to to plant bushes, defend forests, placing compost again within the soil, serving to to preserve water are among the methods to provide again to nature. This stuff will assist us keep related with nature. One can take up hobbies like fowl watching, mountain climbing, visiting wildlife sanctuaries to see the great thing about nature and recognize the wildlife wealth now we have in India.

The factor about nature is that she will not be grasping, and she or he desires us to be respectful of her and her creatures. Wild animals simply need to be left alone.

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