Practising co-existence

happy living You don't need to be an animal conservationist to do your bit for the wildlife. Just put out some water for the parched throats, create s

Practising co-existence

You can be a conservator and protector of wildlife right in your own home, without having to operate out of dense forests in a zeal to save animals, reptiles and mammals. To start with, simply place water in earthen bowls in these hot summer months to quench the thirst of birds, squirrels and other smaller mammals.

And if you live in a well-maintained apartment with manicured lawns and open spaces on the fringes of Bengaluru, spare a thought for the displaced snakes. Stir up some dry leaves, make a mess of a part of the garden space and allow snakes to dwell in the overgrown spaces you have created for them! They are as much the inheritors of this earth as you and me, so let’s co-exist

Ideas like these brought Suresh Kumar and Jaishankar together and they set up Vanamitra, a trust with a vision to involve common people in wildlife conservation. They have rescued various species of birds, animals, reptiles and mammals from
conflict situations and successfully released them back to their habitat. They have rehabilitated injured and orphaned wildlife; educated and sensitised over 20,000 people from forest officials to villagers to students to be animal- and ecology-friendly.

Vanamitra has organised nature camps, tree planting and ecological restoration along with looking after many leopard cubs. This is their forte. Suresh  says, “Forests are getting pushed back by human habitation and encroachments. As the forest cover depletes, leopards, being territorial, continue to stay in their habitats in spite of encroachment. Leopards tend to move around sugarcane fields and tall grass. Cubs that are spotted are carried away by villagers in the hope that their numbers will diminish and attack threats recede. It is a short step to the zoos or other captivity methods from here.”

Recently, Vanamitra rescued five orphaned leopard cubs, reared them with care and released them back to the habitats .

Many rescues
Vanamitra’s stories of rescues are legion but none so heartwarming as when they come from unexpected quarters. A slender loris, with its trademark of wide, bright and shining eyes, almost came under the wheels of a lorry on a village road. The lorry driver stopped his vehicle and on realising that the animal’s leg was injured, contacted Vanamitra. The loris is being treated and will soon to be released back into its habitat. Jaishankar is amused when he gets calls from the driver asking about the animal. He anxiously asks, “Heng ide namma paapa?” Incidentally, the slender loris is known as Kaada Paapa in Kannada!

The Indian Star Tortoise is poached for its shell and so-called medicinal benefits. It is smuggled to South East Asia where it is in great demand. Recently, Vanamitra was contacted by government officials, who found hundreds of these creatures in a gunny bag in a house near the airport, waiting to be flown out. The animals were starved and dehydrated when they were first brought to Vanamitra. With some love and care, they recovered well and were then handed over to forest officials for release.

The airport is a dangerous zone – when planes sometimes hit birds, the bird species itself is affected. Of course, the planes suffer damage too. Vanamitra has chalked out a unique plan in these situations. The Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard Management (BASHM) offers solutions that are eco-friendly and scientific.

Vanamitra’s extensive experience in wildlife conflict management turns out to be pretty useful for BASHM.

Support for Vanamitra is on three different levels. The first is through its volunteer network to promote the larger cause of wildlife. The second is through a membership – members can take part in workshops, camps and events. The last is through the internship programme where one can work on specific projects on wildlife or even lend creative support in content writing and design.

You can contact Vanamitra at

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