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Hiss story: From snake catching to animal rescuing

Founder of Animal Rescue Squad, Amrut Singh from Bicholim has been working effortlessly towards rescuing animals for nearly 25 years. Under TERI’s Green Heroes initiative, a film based on his life will be screened at Green Heroes Film Workshop and Festival in Mumbai. NT BUZZ catches up Amrut to find out more

VENITA GOMES |NT BUZZ

 

From snakes to leopards to crocodiles and monkeys, the founder of Animal Rescue Squad, Amrut Singh has rescued several animals from unsafe habitats. Despite constant threats from poachers, and even after being severely attacked he continues to do his job with unshakeable commitment.

 

The film ‘Man for the Wild’ is a story about Amrut who has been protecting the environment through rescuing animals. The film is an initiative under ‘The Green Heroes Film Workshop and Festival’ organised by TERI. The initiative was started with the thought of finding people who are taking action to protect the environment in their neighbourhood and communities, but often their stories go untold. “I am glad that a film is made on me and I am sure people will take something from it,” says Amrut.

Narrating an incident that changed his life and made him realise the importance of animals in an ecosystem, Amrut says: “we had frequent visits of reptiles like snakes in our village, as it was situated near the forest. As a child I would always kill the snake whenever I would see it, not because it would harm me but because there was a craze to watch the snake struggle for an escape. Once my dad caught me killing a snake and he was very upset and disappointed with my behaviour. I expected him to be happy as I was only six-years-old and had killed a snake, which to me was an accomplishment. But it was not the way I thought.”

He adds: “On returning home my father narrated an incident that when I was a child of about two and was playing in the courtyard, a cobra crawled up beside me. My father cried for help to people but no one helped him. Luckily, the snake went away without harming anyone. This led him to explain to me ‘when an animal does not harm you, why are you harming the animal?’ and these words changed my attitude towards the animals.”

Gradually, as Amrut grew he started mastering the art of catching snakes. People started calling him whenever a snake would enter their house. Along with his friends and like-minded people he later began the Animal Rescue Squad, a team that catered towards safeguarding and protecting animals. Amrut went ahead and got himself trained in wildlife rescuing in Pune and came back to Goa and started creating awareness programmes in association with the Forest Department and Wildlife Rescue Team.

Hunting and poaching were always a threat to animals and there is a need to stop illegal activities. He says to gain experience he accompanied hunters to observe what exactly they would do. Sharing one such heart wrenching incident he says: “the hunters shot an animal but we were not sure what kind of an animal it was. Then one of the members of the hunting group told us that it was a mouse-deer that is the smallest species of deer found in India. The heart-breaking thing was when the hunters were cleaning the deer carcass they found a deer foetus inside the abdomen cavity, which they just threw away. My friend and I were completely shaken with the ruthless behaviour.”

It was then that he along with his team geared up and took an oath to protect animals from such illegal activities. Amrut also highlights how today it is hard to find a place to release animals as construction and mining has cleared and destroyed the most of the habitats of these animals.

He also mentions that Goa has abundance of flora and fauna and animals like pangolins, slender Loris and several others are under threat.

Praising the efforts of environmentalist and NGOs, Amrut says: “With the help of environmentalists and various NGOs things have changed for better. Like-minded people are raising their voice against degradation of forest and insisting on protecting the environment; if this continues we will be able to protect the animals and their habitats.”

 

(The Green Heroes Film Festival featuring short films that explore the lives of ‘Green Heroes’ will be held on April 25 at Regency

Ball Room, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Mumbai)

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