Paul Oxton, the founder of Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation, once said, “If you are not filled with overflowing love, compassion, and goodwill for all creatures living wild in nature, you will never know true happiness.” In 1969, John Rendall and Anthony Burke purchased a captive-bred lion cub from a department store in London and named him Christian. Soon, with help from wildlife conservationist George Adamson, they released Christian into the wild in Africa. A year later, when Rendall and Burke decided to visit Christian in the wild, they probably had no expectations. But when Christian saw the pair, he leaped at them with utter joy, smothering them with his love. What’s more, the lion not only remembered his humans but also introduced them to his pride, who accepted the two men willingly!
It’s no wonder the video that captured this reunion went viral online. How often do we get to witness the special bond humans share with the wild? While not all have an incredible tale to tell like Rendall and Burke, conservationists, writers and photographers do experience the wild more closely than many of us.
For some, bonding with the wild is a calling. Wildlife conservationists live a life dedicated to saving creatures–big and small–finding deep satisfaction in what they do. It’s no easy feat conserving the wild though. A conservationist’s job is one of patience. It can be a long-drawn and many a time rather frustrating process. The intense work, extensive research, the several years of seemingly endless projects, and the time away from home can all seem a little too daunting for many. But a professional knows fully well that caring for wildlife is a long-term goal, whose results can take several years to fructify. And it’s exactly what Shashank Dalvi’s anecdote tells us.
In 2012, Shashank and a team of other wildlife conservationists and biologists headed to the Doyang Reservoir in Nagaland. They intended to find out the truth about the rumours they’d heard about amur falcons–small birds of prey–being hunted in the region. And what they found shocked them. “Every year, in a span of 10-12 days of the migratory period, over one lakh amur falcons were being killed! So, we started our work by educating the locals through eco camps in 2013. From then until now, not a single amur falcon has been shot down in that region again,” Shashank says. The resounding success of this initiative has made it one of his most fruitful experiences in the field. Projects such as this one keep his passion for conservation growing.