By Resham Beri and Steffi Joseph
Rajbir Singh is the coordinator of the Wildlife SOS Helpline Unit and has been responsible for saving the lives of several people and animals at the same time. His job is to ensure that the helpline is manned around the clock and to ensure quick reponses to calls based on the urgency of the situation.
The Wildlife SOS Helpline receives calls from the police, fire department, forest department, members of the public and more often than not from residents who witness a cobra in their house or a monitor lizard entering their back yard and are panicking and worried about their safety.
Rajbir’s training at Wildlife SOS has taught him to how to calm down a panicked caller and get information from them to assess the urgency of the situation. He has now been involved with thousands of rescue operations and man/animal conflict situations.
Wildlife SOS works closely with indigenous communities that exploit wildlife in an attempt to rehabilitate these people and bring them into main stream society to prevent them from poaching and exploiting wild animals. Rajbir comes from a community of snake charmers near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. Snake charming and hunting wild animals has been a tradition in his family for generations. When asked about his past he said, “My father and other relatives used to catch cobras and other snakes and use them for snake charming. We always knew that snake charming was illegal and we were breaking the law, but it was providing us bread and butter for the family. So as a young boy, I looked after the snakes in the care of my family. I did not like this practice and decided to study so I would not have to become a snake charmer. Wildlife SOS gave me a lucky break and helped me fulfill my dream of moving away from snake charming. Today, Wildlife SOS helps me support my family as I received a good salary, medical insurance and a secure job. I am well respected in my community. In fact, many youngsters look up to me as a role model and have joined Wildlife SOS after giving up snake charming.”
Working for Wildlife SOS has not only enriched Rajbir’s knowledge about reptiles and other animals but also enhanced his love for them. He is very motivated to save as many animals as he can and help mitigate man-animal or more specifically man-reptile conflicts.
He recalls his most memorable rescue, the first time he rescued a porcupine at the Delhi International Airport. “it was a weird looking animal! I had never seen it before. I didn’t even know what its name was.” He added, “Working for Wildlife SOS has been a great exposure for me as everyday is a new learning experience. Today I am not scared of animals and hope to spread as much awareness about them to the common man. It gives me immense pleasure to rescue thesse animals in distress and do my bit towards preserving nature and India’s wildlife.”
Rajbir is a living example of how Wildlife SOS works closely with indigenous communities to support conservation, while reforming and rehabilitating them in a sustainable manner. We are very proud to have Rajbir as part of our team
Rajbir’s dream is to help Wildlife SOS reach out to more people in his community and convert all snake charmers to stop harming wildlife. Please click here to support Wildlife SOS Community Initiatives. www.wildlifesos.org/donate