It is with heavy hearts, and profound sadness that we announce the unfortunate demise of Snehal Bhavsar, who has been an irreplaceable part of the Wildlife SOS family for nearly forty years, and who will always be for us a source of inspiration and a huge part of who we are as an organisation. Snehal, who ran our rescue helpline in Gujarat, passed away late last month due to a heart attack. She is survived by her husband Raj and her son Zubin.
Anyone who knew Snehal Bhavsar was in awe of her. She was a powerhouse who had chosen to dedicate her life to some of the most misunderstood and reviled of India’s creatures- reptiles. Her work took her from farms to people’s homes to railways stations, rescuing venomous snakes, injured birds and even ten-foot crocodiles – and she handled each case with an energy that was daring and cheerful, and grew out of her insurmountable love and respect for the animals she worked with. Her kind-heartedness and her unwavering dedication to the cause of animal welfare and her advocacy of animal protection laws shone through in everything she did, and rendered her an inspiring and much-loved figure in the animal welfare community, and a saviour for countless voiceless animals.
It was never easy for Snehal, but she let nothing stop her – not the numerous death threats she received, the time she was hospitalised following an attack by an angry mob, or her brush with a Russel’s viper that left her fighting for her life. Despite it all, Snehal treated danger as a mere occupational hazard, and continued to believe in the possibility of positive change, and the power of awareness to bring it about. She ran regular workshops and awareness programs for affected locals and, despite her dislike for the barbaric tradition of snake charming, she continued to educate and work with snake charmers to convert them into rescuers – some of whom continue to work with Wildlife SOS till date.
In a 2003 interview, Snehal confessed that she saw her work as simply doing her duty to nature . “The gratitude I sense whenever I return a snake to the wild, like returning a child to its mother, it’s what I live for. It’s up to us to save our wildlife, and for that we need more people dedicated to the cause. I am confident the day is not far away when there’ll be lots of Snehals in this country!”
With her passing, Gujarat’s wildlife has lost its most dedicated champion and it’s most fierce defender – and Wildlife SOS has lost a treasured part of its family.