Meet the wildlife guardians — munshi, driver, daily wager & 3 helpers : The Tribune India

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World Environment Day

Meet the wildlife guardians — munshi, driver, daily wager & 3 helpers

Together they have rescued, fed, rehabilitated thousands of wild animals

Meet the wildlife guardians — munshi, driver, daily wager & 3 helpers

(From right) Surjit, Peer Baksh & Devinder



Tribune News Service

Aparna Banerji

Jalandhar, June 4

Six unsung heroes — a munshi, a driver, a daily wager and three range office helpers — who together led a silent movement for decades to protect the precious biodiversity of the Shivalik hills will be awarded with the ‘Wildlife Guardians Award’ on World Environment Day on June 5.

They have saved and rescued thousands of animals, fed and rehabilitated wild animals and guarded and revived forests.

Unsung heroes leading a silent crusade in Shivalik hills

  • Vijay Kumar, a daily wager, doubles up as a forest guardian (chowkidar). He carried a burly wood ladder on his shoulders for 3.5 km through a jungle to rescue a python which fell in a forest well.
  • Sanjeev Kumar, a munshi, has revived and created countless ponds, reservoirs and water bodies in the Shivalik hills to quench thirst of thousands of animals which would otherwise have died
  • Peer Baksh, Surjit & Devinder, wildlife range members, have waded through jungle riverine areas and canals, suffering bruises and kicks from animals to save drowning nilgai and other animals
  • Madan Lal, a driver, has made his home in the Kandi foothills a rehabilitation centre where countless injured and lost animals have found refuge until being released back to the forests
Madal Lal

Awardees include Vijay Kumar, a daily wager who doubles up as a forest guardian (chowkidar). He carried a burly wood ladder on his shoulders for 3.5 km through thick jungle to rescue a python which fell in a forest well. He voluntarily watches over forests from poachers across Tonsa jungles.

Sanjeev Kumar a munshi from Malerkotla and native of Mallewal village in Nawanshahr, has revived and created countless ponds, reservoirs and water bodies in the Shivalik hills to quench the thirst of thousands of animals which would otherwise have died. Due to his efforts, 300 to 400 water tankers (per summer) which earlier cost Rs 1,000 each, are now provided for free by a support group he inspired, to revive drying ponds in peak summers. Temporary cameras have captured upto 150 animals quenching their thirst in one pond a night.

Vijay Kumar

Garhshankar Widlife Range team members Peer Baksh, Surjit and Devinder have waded through many a jungle riverine areas and canal, suffering cuts and bruises (from discarded bottles and glass) and kicks from animals to save drowning nilgai and other wild beings.

Pick-up driver Madan Lal’s home in the Kandi foothills, is a makeshift rehabilitation centre — where countless injured and lost animals have found refuge and food, until being released back to the forests. Hundreds of rescued nilgai calves fed milk at his home are now huge adults.

The Wildlife Guardians Award is an initiative started by a group of environmental do-gooders under the name of ‘Wild Shivalik’. A total of four awards will be awarded on the occasion, each with a cash prize of Rs 5,000 and a gift hamper consisting environmental work utilities needed by the men.

The award ceremony will be hosted tomorrow atop Jambujeet Temple at Mallewal village in Balachaur, surrounded by verdant hills - a shrine revered as a guardian deity of the hills of the region.

Sanjeev Kumar

Wildlife Warden Nikhil Senger who is one of the key founders of the Award initiative, said Shivalik Hill ranges and forests across SBS Nagar, all the way to Ropar are teeming with wildlife and rich biodiversity. For such a vast area, there is no rescue and rehabilitation centre despite ever increasing threats. These men have done this job, reviving wildlife out of pure kindness even though they had no need to. These are poor men and daily wagers who hardly have enough to make their ends meet. But yet they pooled in all rescources to save forests. The award is our maiden initiative to honour and encourage these men who have never sought the limelight.”

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