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Born to be Wild
Commemorating a decade of Wildlife Rescue and Rehablilitation
Ten years ago I remember going to the fringe of Panbari reserve forest in Assam to look at a bald patch of land that formed the eastern fringe of the reserve. Behind me was the national highway and then Kaziranga National Park. Facing me were the low hills of Karbi Anglong. It was during floods that the wild animals of Kaziranga try to get across to the high lands of Karbi Anglong and get hit by vehicles on the highway or poached by villagers in surrounding areas. The idea of the International Fund of Animal Welfare and Wildlife Trust of India was to come together and assist the Assam Forest department in building a rescue and rehabilitation centre. The idea was in people's heads and on paper but the bare patch of land I saw showed little promise. Mr BS Bonal the then Director and DD Boro the range officer gave support and leadership. Dr Anand Ramanathan of my own organisation did some spade work. Mr Alok Jain the Commissioner of Assam did the official paperwork to ensure a solid MOU.

At exactly the same time, we saw bears being kept as pets in the neighboring state of Arunachal Pradesh. Due to the awareness spread by WTI as well as the Forest department, particularly Chuku Loma, then Director of Pakke villagers started surrendering bears to the department. The zoo at Itanagar was ill equipped and we decided to build a species specific centre in the state

Ten years on, the two centers stand testament to the partnership of all three organizations; I still can't believe that we made all this happen. The fact that nearly an animal a day has been saved for the whole ten years( 3000 or so in just Assam) is something that is even more satisfying. The protocols that the centres have field tested or created is a fantastic contribution to conservation. And the vets that have gone through these two centers have given hope to the states that their new blood can serve the region for years to come.

These photos are visual depictions of the hard work done by the staff and keepers of these centers and the great stories of hope that the animals of the region have because of these centers.

I wish the two centers many more years of service to the wildlife of the region

Vivek Menon
Executive Director, WTI
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