By Resham Beri
In a one of a kind rescue and release operation, The Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and Wildlife SOS released a young marsh crocodile in its natural habitat at the National Chambal Sanctuary. Delhi Wildlife Department and Wildlife SOS confiscated the crocodile some months back from wildlife smugglers who were intercepted at the Delhi Railway Station on a tipoff.
The smugglers were travelling from Karnatak to Delhi to sell the young crocodile to a Chinese trader to be used in traditional Chinese medicinal preparation. Initially, the Hon’ble Wildlife Court in Delhi issued orders for the corocodile to be kept in the care of Wildlife SOS. Once the permission to release the animal was granted by the DCF Chambal and Chief Wildlife Warden of Uttar Pradesh, Wildlife SOS and the Delhi Wildlife Department requested the Honarable Court in Delhi to permit the animal to be shifted and released in the Chambal River. The court even requested the crocodile to be brought into the court for the purpose of evidence, which turned out to be an unusual spectacle for lawyers and members of the public attending court that day!
The Wildlife SOS team transported the VIP reptile to Chambal in a special container and accompanied by Delhi Wildlife Inspector to witness the event. The crocodile was released on the banks of the Chambal River on 27th October in the pressence of forest officers.
Dr. Rupak De, Chief Wildlife Warden, Uttar Pradesh Forest Deprtment said, “I’m very happy with the release of this crocodile facilitated by Wildlife SOS, It is one of nature’s wonders that another creature was sent ack to its natural habitat.”
The Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildife), Shri N.K Janoo, IFS expressed his happiness at the success of the release and said, “Chambal River is a natural habitat for crocodiles. Releasing the crocodile is giving back its freedom. The animal was in good health and I congratulate the forest department and Widlife SOS for their consistent efforts.”
The Wildlife SOS team who organized the release included rescue team members Lokesh and Sonu accompanied by Prathames and Rinesh with Baiju who coordinated the release operation.
Geeta Seshamani, Co-founder of Wildlife SOS said, “After the crocodile was let out, it initially paused, taking in its surrounding as if trying to understand its new freedom. It eventually took one last look at the rescuers and swam off into thepristine waters of the Chambal River.”
Baiju Raj said, “Crocodiles are used for aphrodisiac preparations and South East Asian delicacies in some countries.”