The second wave of this pandemic tore through the country leaving thousands of families bereft of support. Amongst these are families of frontline forest staff who lost their sole earning member to the sudden virus attack. Unlike most of us, the men and women who patrol our country's forests on foot cannot work from home. They walked their wilderness beats, at most times far removed from basic medical facilities, let alone specialised Covid care.
Between March and June 2021, when most of us stayed at home, India lost more than 500 of these conservation heroes to Covid-19 while they were out protecting our country’s natural heritage!
Most of them were young, between 30 and 50 years of age, and had committed their lifetime to preserving India's wildlife. The sudden demise of so many young, committed people is not only heart-wrenching, but a blow to nature conservation. The least we can do now is to recognize their service and stand in support of the young families they leave behind, who have suffered the biggest blow.
Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has initiated the Conservation Heroes Covid Casualty Fund. Under this scheme, they are providing an immediate ex-gratia of INR 100,000/- and a scroll of honour to the next of kin of the fallen heroes. No amount can substitute the loss of a loved one, but this is a token to honour their lifetime of service to nature and our endeavour to reach out and stand with the families who had to put their loved ones, and also the breadwinners in most cases, to rest too soon.
As the ambassador of WTI, as a staunch supporter of our frontline forest staff and conservation heroes and heroines, I wholeheartedly back this fund and appeal to you to join me and donate to support the families of our Conservation heroes Covid Casualties. Our target is to raise 5 crores to cover 500 families and your contribution can bring us closer to our goal. Thank you for standing with us – for families of our Van Rakshaks, the unsung heroes.