By Aishuwarya Sudarshan
Wildlife SOS had promised the head of the Astanpura village, which is located in the Brane-Nishat conservation reserve that they would deliver some First Aid Kits in the village, because of the causalities caused by wild animals.
It wasn’t the first time we had visited the village; last time we were there we bumped into a very enthusiastic gentleman who everyone lovingly called’ masterji’. This time we decided to spend more time chatting with masterji and what we heard actually made our day, it made our week almost.
Masterji is a retired headmaster now, he used to run the school in the village during the day and on the weekends he would’ hunt’ all the wild animals that came near the orchards. When we heard what he had said we were shell shocked. Our mouths were wide open; we didn’t know how to react and most of all we didn’t know how to proceed with the conversation. But that was when masterji said ‘I am so ashamed at all the things that I did then, especially killing those poor innocent animals that were obviously in the orchards to eat some fruit. I don’t blame them; we had taken most of their forest area’. That is when we retained our composure and asked him what had changed his mind. He said ‘I started realizing it wasn’t their fault, it was ours, we took their homes, they didn’t have any food left and when they came searching for our food, we invariably shot them to protect ourselves’. So that was when he decided to put down the gun and do something for the animals.
Masterji is now a very well known name in the village and the forest department, because he organizes training sessions and seminars for the ignorant locals. He educated the kids on how to react to situations and also tells them preventive measures they can use on their fields.
What warmed our hearts most was when masterji showed us around and took us to his orchard where he had made a pond for the animals if they felt thirsty! He sometimes leaves food outside for them. It is wonderful that a man who once took pride in his aim now is forcing people to help those animals. He says until his health permits he will continue spreading the word of awareness.
It is beautiful to see a man change and transform into a person kids and adults would look up to. It is pleasing to see the small things he does now for the same animals he once used to hunt. Most of all it is heartening to see how he is spreading the awareness and telling people not to make the same mistakes he did.