Crocodile Fanatic or Wildlife Buff

I am often asked whether I am one of those die hard crocodile fanatics or a wildlife lover.....well, I would say say a little of both....infact my love for the wilds led me to many protected areas in the country. I often volunteered with local NGO's and got to know about India's Green movement hands on during my days of volunteering.

Somewhere during my early days with wildlife I learnt about snakes while I was observing frogs in South India and I often took a chance to participate in wild animal census work. One of the most memorable being in the Western Ghats of Goa...I spent a week trekking the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary with frontline staff of the Goa Forest Department. I often recall that we were paid a hundred rupees per day and at the end of the week with seven hundred bucks and busted shoes I had enough to get myself a new pair of shoes and a bus ticket back home.



Well....I had not even completed college then and I kinda quit the Indian literacy programme for a few years..... and with not many savings for a college student I continued with my volunteering work with wildlife NGO's in Central India where I worked on Nature Awareness Programmes and even helped stop many trees from being felled in the city of Amravati by filing affidavits in the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court. The petition was a success and many trees were given a new lease of life ..... and I learnt about advocacy in India's Green Movement.

During these years I often visited Pench Tiger Reserve and got an insight into Project Tiger......and even went on to spend time in the Reserve studying its birds and tigers. You could say by then I was a big supporter of the tiger and as all tiger lovers do I found my way travelling closer to home in Uttarakhand to Corbett Tiger Reserve where I worked for a few years with an NGO in the area with tiger research and conservation work.

Sometime then the gharial crisis was talked about often in the press and television. Well, with a workshop being organised in the National Chambal Sanctuary I kinda made my way there and got to understand the basics of crocodiles and freshwater turtle monitoring work.

Returning to Corbett I often thought about the crocs in Corbett and the best estimates were not more then ten which were the remnants of once released captive bred gharial form the Kukrail Project in Lucknow.

With some support from Romulus Whitaker and the Corbett Tiger Reserve Management I surveyed Corbett back in 2008 and the rest was history.

Being nominated to the IUCN SSC Crocodile Specialist Group after the Corbett surveys I was to visit the National Chambal Sanctuary after the 2008 gharial die-off there and spent many months on the river getting to learn about crocs and the wonderful people of the Chambal.

Radiotelemetry work was soon to follow and the biggest challenge was catching wild gharial to monitor. Well, using an innovative technique I simply fished them out.....and by now a well seasoned crocodile buff I returned back home to continue with croc work in  Corbett.

Being away from the literacy programme had been rewarding but I was also keen to upgrade my studies as well as continue my work with crocs and wildlife in the region. With the Doon (PG) College of Agricultural Science, Technology and Management in Dehra Dun being kind enough to grant me admission into the Forestry Undergraduate Degree Course I was to be a Forestry Graduate from here and I continued my studies in the MSc Forestry Programme from this Institute having recently become a Forestry Post - Graduate. 

While I devote a lot of time to the crocodile work in Corbett I also find time to protect forest habitat and am defending the forests of the Gadoli and Manda Khal Fee Simple Estates.....for which you can visit The Forest Campaign on www.gadoliforest.blogspot.in.......

Well.....crorocodile fantatic or wildlife buff.....I would surely say that my work with Wild India has defintely led me into the fascinating  and captivating realm of crocodiles.....!!!!