As you read this post, an injured monitor lizard with multiple fractures rescued from one of Mumbai's busiest station CSMT is battling for life. At the same time, a two-month-old orphaned baby monkey, laali, found beside a pool of blood in 2018 is being fostered by a human family in Palghar. While, Sultan, the old eagle owl, who may never be able fly again is adjusting his life in urban environment hoping to survive a little longer.
Sultan and laali could survive because everyday several ordinary citizens in Mumbai risk their lives to save the urban wildlife. Traversing through the maximum city- attending rescue calls while juggling their academics and first jobs, the young rescuers in their early 20s throw themselves into the conflicting world of humans and urban wildlife conservation. From resisting an angry mob ready to kill the leopard entering a human habitat to doubling up as sleuths to help the authorities keep a check on the wildlife trafficking trends, a wildlife rescuer's unpaid job rarely gets noticed. Thus, amid this chaos lies the rescuer's challenge to strike a plausible balance to save both the human and wild life, often risking his/her life.
Pawan was only 13-years-old when he rescued a snake with the help of a bucket and hook of an aluminum hanger. A Russell's Viper had entered his building premises and gobbled up one of his kittens. While the society members were convinced that the venomous snake was a threat and should be eliminated (read killed), Pawan somehow assured the members that he would rescue and release it in the natural habitat.
A year later, a similar incident occurred and this time when a snake was spotted the members now approached a local snake rescuer. That memory of the rescuer saving the reptile in front of his eyes etched into Pawan's memory so deep that seven years later at the age of 20, he formed a local group of student volunteers who would rescue reptiles which eventually led to the formation of Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW).
He might be only 26-years-old but, Pawan has already rescued over 5000 snakes, actively participated in major leopard rescue operations in Mumbai and assisted forest department in nabbing culprits indulging in wildlife trade. At the age of 24 he was appointed as the honorary Animal Welfare Officer (Appointed by the Committee to Monitor Animal Welfare Laws in Maharashtra by the Bombay High Court and Government of Maharashtra). Today, he is one of the youngest honorary wildlife warden working with the Maharashtra Forest Department (Thane city) and heads the non-governmental organization- Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW).
With every wildlife rescue, we step an inch closer towards its conservation. As humans when our instincts to kill an animal in fear changes to save the animal in distress, we learn how to coexist. That's what we at RAWW believe- Rescue. Conserve. Coexist.
Who we are ?
RAWW is a Mumbai based non-governmental organization with a mission to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts and work towards urban wildlife conservation. RAWW was started in 2013 with help of young student volunteers whom we call the real change makers.
The founder of the organization, Pawan Sharma, initiated the leadership by forming a small yet effective group of changemakers. As a result, an entirely volunteer driven organization rescuing wild animals/birds/reptiles, was born.
We are a young organization and most of our volunteers are students juggling academics and part time jobs or young professionals managing the erratic work schedules of their first jobs. All are our members who provide us legal, financial, medical assistance work on pro-bono basis with a pure intent towards the cause of wildlife conservation.
What do we do?
We rescue, rehabilitate, provide immediate treatment and temporary foster care to the wild animals, birds and reptiles in the city and ensure that they are released into the natural habitat.
How did we create an impact?
Every year we rescue over 1000 wild animals/birds/reptiles in and around Mumbai. Between October to December, 2018 alone we successfully rescued 332 wild animals/birds/reptiles. You can read our full year RAWW Rescue Reports here.
RAWW impact stories:
In 2018, RAWW was one of the first organizations to bring to the notice of the authorities regarding seagulls being fed with harmful farsans. The matter quickly escalated and the authorities posted guards at Marine Drive to prevent citizens from feeding farsans to the seagulls. You can read about it here.
Taking note of our efforts, honourable Minister Finance And Planning Forests, Mr Sudhir Mungantiwar appreciated our campaign #DoNotFeedWildlife. You can read the full letter here.
+Keeping a check on wildlife trafficking trends:
In 2018, RAWW participated in over four Indian Pangolin rehabilitation exercises with the Maharashtra Police and Forest Department. Pangolins are globally endangered , threatened and the most trafficked species because of the high demand of their scales, body parts and meat. The rehabilitation exercises involved daily feeding, medical examination under proper care and observation. You can read the full story here.
+Project Raahat- Kerala Floods:
In August, RAWW participated in a joint rescue operation with AWAAZ and Thane SPCA to provide essential relief materials and medicines for the flood affected animals and their care givers in Kerala.
All of us collectively rescued over 300 animals. You can read the full story here.
Why do we need an ambulance ?
An ambulance is one of the most crucial factor in any wildlife rescue. Take this story as an example. On 1st January, 2019 an injured female sub adult Nilgai was rescued from a village in Sahapur by our rescue team and the forest officials. The animal was in pain, trauma and limping while walking. Our Mumbai team soon reached the location, evaluated the situation and carefully rescued the animal and transported it to Mumbai. However, the job was not done yet. It was then shifted to Sanjay Gandhi National Park where its further examination and treatment was initiated.
A wildlife rescue is incomplete unless the wild animal is rehabilitated or released into their natural habitat. If injured (in most cases), the animal is unfit for release unless it is given proper treatment, space and time to respond to the treatment. In such times, a proper wildlife rescue ambulance will play a pivotal role in taking the injured animal for regular medical check-ups and get to the rehab centre/ hospital.
Setting up an operational wildlife rescue ambulance is a costly affair. Currently we have a four-year-old semi-equipped donated human ambulance which we use for rescue, treatment and rehabilitation process. However, the basic ambulance with modest equipments and lack of space and infrastructure to accommodate big cages, is not sufficient to conduct big rescue operations or handle sensitive cases of rehabilitation.
A bigger ambulance with all the necessary equipments will make our efforts to save wild animals more effective. The cost of setting up the 24/7 wildlife ambulance service would include:
|1.||Cost of the 5 seater car (on road price+ modification/fabrication to convert into wildlife ambulance||Rs 12, 00,000|
|2.||Salary of the on ground rescue team (1 driver, two rescuers, one vet and one assistant)||Rs 15,000 per month for driver, rescuer and assistant each, and a minimum of Rs 25,000 per month for the in-house veterinarian.|
|3.||Emergency kit /first aid/human/animal/bird/reptile rescue kit||Rs 2,00,000|
We have already initiated the booking of the ambulance. Please find below the booking receipt:
Generally, a basic wildlife ambulance is a small vehicle similar to that used for the humans, however, we have initiated a purchase of TATA Yodha which would be later modified and fabricated into a fully functional and operational wildlife ambulance.
The modified ambulance will be a five seater, which can accommodate a full rescue team of one drive, two rescuers , one in-house vet and one assistant. Additionally, the high end ambulance will also accommodate rescue operation cages and will include a designated area for rescue equipments and wildlife emergency, first aid kits etc.
We intend to provide the service 24/7 hence the rescue team on board will be salaried on a monthly basis.
Emergency first aid kit for rescuer- Safety of the rescuer is very important and a must, hence the ambulance should be equipped with a proper first aid kit for a rescuer in case of emergencies like snake bites, animal attack etc.
Emergency medical kit for injured wildlife- Sometimes, an injured animal/bird/reptile may require immediate on the spot treatment/medication until it reaches the hospital. Hence, as per protocol, the medical kit will help us to eradicate the chances of on the spot deaths during a rescue operation.
Apart from the direct costs, the ambulance service will also incur indirect costs including the petrol, transportation and maintenance charges.
Advantages of the ambulance:
+Sturdy vehicle that can operate in different terrains including national parks, jungles etc
+Can accommodate a small rescue team of five members
+Fully equipped with necessary wildlife equipments
+ Provide emergency rescue, rehabilitation, and treatment services.
How else can you help ?
As explained earlier, RAWW is still a majorly volunteer driven organization, our monthly expenditure often exceeds the amount we collect though the donations. Every little amount you donate can make a huge difference to us and the wild animals under our foster care. You can help us serve the city wildlife better by donating for the following:
Current monthly expenditure:
1. Fiber cages to foster rescued wild animal/bird/reptile (Rs 5,000-Rs 7000 per cage)
2. Plastic baskets for bird rescues (Rs 700-Rs 1000)
3. Cloth bags for snake rescues(Rs 500- Rs 1000) per bag
4. Tongs for reptile rescue (Rs 5000 Rs 7000) per piece
5. Paid staff (one driver, one full time rescuer with the ambulance-Rs15,000 each, per month.)
6. RAWW Ambulance maintenance/petrol Rs 5000 fortnightly
7. Daily food of animal/bird/reptile under foster care ( Rs 500- Rs 5000) per animal.
8. Medical charges of wild animals under foster care for example, X ray, medications etc Rs 3000-5000 approximately per wild animal, per month.
9. Vouchers/ reimbursements to volunteers. (Rs 500-Rs 1000) per volunteer
10. Helpline management and stationery Rs 500- Rs 5000 every 3 months.
Read/Watch our daily rescue updates on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RAWWMUMBAI/