वन्य जीवन एवं पर्यावरण

International Journal of Environment & Agriculture ISSN 2395 5791


बीती सदी में बापू ने कहा था

"किसी राष्ट्र की महानता और नैतिक प्रगति को इस बात से मापा जाता है कि वह अपने यहां जानवरों से किस तरह का सलूक करता है"- मोहनदास करमचन्द गाँधी

ये जंगल तो हमारे मायका हैं

Dec 12, 2010

A story of species killers Part-II

....concluding part of 

 .......With Kalandars:
“AssaSalaam Alaokum bhai”, I said. “Waileikum ass Salaam”, one of the bear owner replied. I could see only 3 bears and 3 owners. Still two of them were missing, so I thought I will wait for them and spend time in discussing with them. I told, “Yahhan kamai nahi hai”. One Kalandar said, ‘ye kamai ka ilaqa nahi hai, kamai to Raipur mei hai”. One of the kalandar offered me bidi (I don’t smoke, but 90% of the kalandars smoke and I accepted their offer). I took the bidi and started smoking. We discussed all issues, I collected lot of information on bear cub trade in the state of Chattisgarh. The information helped me a lot in sloth bear cub trade control. Now I have substantial information about bear owners. All the bear owners are from Chorbhatti, Bilaspur. They all got these cubs from Marvaha Range of Amarkantak Reserve Forest.
In the meantime two other kalandars also came with their bears. I thought this is the right time, now I should inform the enforcement team. I told one kalandar that I will piss and come. I went 50 m away from the tents behind the bush. I took out the mobile, there was no network. I tried all the options, moved my phone in all directions but was not able to get any signal. I came back to the Kalandars. They were planning to go to other side of the river. I have to do something. I told them, “ Mei zara thandi chai (Local liquor) peekar aata hoon”. One of them also came with me. We went to a theka nearby the village. As  I don’t drink so it was totally a different situation for me. We bought an Adha (100ml liquor bottle) that costs Rs 25. I made two packs. He finished his pack within a fraction of a second and I was taking the smallest sip as I can’t tolerate the smell of liquor. So the whole bottle was finished by the other kalandar. He bought another bottle soon and that was also finished. Now he was quite drunk and he told me, “you know why we are moving? Saleem (another kalandar) had seen the forest department’s jeep at the Chowk”. 

 I understood this operation is going to be difficult and I didn’t want my first operation to be a failure. I have to do something. I said, ‘You carry on, I will call my family and come”. I came out of the bar. I saw a small khoka (small wooden shop  mainly for selling pan, tobacco, cigarette) with STD facility. I called the ranger and said, “Sir aajayei ye log jaanei walei hai, jaldi aa jao”. He said, “Ok we are reaching”. I came back to theka, basher was almost unconscious. We both left to the river. When I reached to the river I saw they have already packed everything and were waiting for Basher. Within 15 min they all were ready to leave. 

I was eagerly waiting for the team. In front of my eyes they were going and I was not able to do anything. When team reached they have already crossed 85% of the bridge. They directly stopped the vehicle near me and asked about them. This was the biggest blunder he did. Kalandars were seeing all this from the bridge. Now they understood that I am not a kalandar or I am a kalandar working with forest department as informer. As now I was out of cover so I told the ranger that they are crossing the river, please arrest them. I don’t know why none of the team members were able to see them. In the meantime they had crossed the river and went to the other side. Ranger told me, “ We can’t arrest them now because now they are not in our division. We will inform Raipur division and they will arrest them”. I was shocked. Wildlife criminals are going in front of you with schedule-I species and you are talking about division and all. I took out my phone it was showing single network signal. I called Bhagat Sir, Chief Wildlife Warden. Because of the network problem it took 10 calls and almost half an hour to explain him the situation.
Once he understood the problem, he called Ranger and gave him a good dose, “All divisions comes under me and you are supposed to follow my instructions”. In all this Kalandars had moved far away, we crossed the bridge and enquired about the bear owners. They said, “ aagei gayei hai sahib”. We travelled 10 km by jeep and reached to the main road and we all sat at one dhaba, the time was 10:30 PM. We all had dinner there. Although there was not much food variety available and the food was not hygienic too, but I was so hungry that I had 5 chapati. Two locals were also sitting there and having food. They were taking about everything right from village girls to Prime Minister of India. One of them said, “ You know bear owners are staying in our village”.
I got the information I wanted and so at 11:30 pm we all planned to do a raid at 12:30 AM. Forest officers were very enthusiastic now as they have received a good lecture from CWLW. We waited for an hour, in the meantime and we had arranged one 407 vehicle for transporting the bears. Vehicle reached at 3:30 AM. I, ranger and 3 forest guards left for the location. We were sitting on a highway from midnight, this was first time when I spent my whole night on road. 

5 tents were there in a big field. All of them were in deep sleep. I requested one of the forest guards to call one of the kalandars. Basheer came near to me. Ranger asked, ‘Bhaloo ke kagaz dikhao”. He called other kalandars too, all of them had shown the copy of their ownership certificates. Ranger was not interested in the raid from the beginning and so he said to me, “they all have ownership certificate so we can’t arrest them”. I tried to explain him “Sir first they are supposed to carry certificates in original and second he is showing us certificate issued by the name of basher, but how do we know he is basher, there is no photo on the license”. I asked Basher to show his voting card, he was not able to show that. So at last I convinced the ranger to arrest all of them. 

 In all this we have wasted three hours, and villagers started coming. Actually they were supporting Kalandars, and it is not wrong also as they don’t know the real picture of illegal wildlife trade happening behind this bear dance picture, for them kalandars are poor people who earn money from street shows and we are harassing them. I have to lead the team now, so I gave duty to two forest guards to manage the crowd. We started loading the bears in truck, kalandar ladies started crying as today was Ed. I was also bit moved after seeing this. I am not King Ashoka, but you can’t see ladies and children crying. Especially children they were crying like anything, their fathers were arrested in front of their eyes on Ed, they must be expecting some Edi (Money given to children on Ed) today, they have not seen in their wildest dream that their father will be arrested on Ed. Then I thought I am just doing my duty and if police starts thinking in the same way then no criminals will be arrested. We left the location within next half an hour. We reached Nandanvan, Raipur Zoo at 1:30 PM. We told Kalandars to tie all the bears behind the main office building. We gave them some bread with milk. 

Me and ranger started working on the paper work for moving the bears from Raipur to Agra. At 3:30 PM we went back to the Raipur court for taking a court order to shift the bears. Judge has already left the court and next day was Sunday so we have to wait for next two days. But we have already given the application as according to the law we have to submit an application within 24 hrs. I decided to shift to a hotel then and take rest.
Sunday morning I started early morning as I wanted to feed bears myself. I took a bus to Nandanvan, bus dropped me to the main road, from there I walked 3km to reach the zoo. At 9:00 am I reached the zoo. Because of Sunday ranger was not there so I directly went to meet the kalandars, they have already given the food to the bears. I just played with bears for 15-20 min, this was the first time I was touching the bears, I had never seen bears so closely.  I took some photos with my Kodak easy share camera, which I bought at Rs 595/- during my MSC field orientation work. 

Then I decided to take a tour of the zoo.  There were 6 common leopards in the zoo, when I asked the keeper about the source of leopards. He said all these leopards were rescued from conflict situation and all of them are man eaters. I really felt bad about the leopards as they all were in small cages. Leopards are the most suffered animals because of conflict, they get life imprisonment for entering in the human settlement. Then I saw a tiger, its paw was half cut, when I asked about it to the keeper. He told me the story that this tiger was rescued from Panna Tiger Reserve, when we reached there to rescue its leg was trapped in the leg hold trap, during the rescue it lost half paw. These were some of my observations about wildlife in the zoo, I also observed some other things which I would like to share with you. During my trip I saw so many couples in objectionable positions in the zoo, some were sitting on a bench behind the tiger enclosure, some were sitting behind the canteen, some were near the hyaena enclosure. Before this I had seen the same thing happening in two more zoos one in Delhi and one in Lucknow and now big part of the zoo’s income comes from these couples. The most important thing is these people even don’t feel ashamed and they will do everything without bothering about the movement happening near them. After giving evening food to the bears I left for Raipur. I reached the hotel at 7:30 pm.
Next day I reached court early morning, ranger was already there with government advocate. 1:00 PM was our hearing time, but I thought it will be better to talk and explain the issue to judge in advance. Although government advocate was with us all the time, but he was not at all trained to fight wildlife cases, even he was not aware of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972). Before coming to the hearing he bought a small Rs 50/-  manual on WPA from nearest stationary shop. Now I know why the conviction rate is less than 1% in wildlife crime cases. At 2:30 PM judge called us, he hardly gave us 10 min and I explained it to him that these rescued bears are not in healthy condition and for the better care of these bears they have to be shifted to  Agra Bear Rescue centre. He was confused or you can say he was not interested in the case but within three hours we received the letter for shifting the bears to ABRF. 

My next aim was to arrange the vehicle for shifting the bears. We have arranged a 407 for transporting the bears. Next day early morning I reached to the Nandan Van zoo. Because the Kalandars had been shifted to Raipur jail, so one night before forest guards were shifted four bears to transportation cages, but one bear was in a leopard enclosure. The bear in the enclosure was a ferocious one, it was a challenge for all of us to shift the bear to transport cage from the enclosure. After trying all possible inhumane methods by the forest officials, I decided to enter into the enclosure. Although I was also very afraid as this was the first time when I was handling a bear in such situation, but I was not showing my fear to any forest officials or even to the bear, because once a Kalandar told me that if you show your fear to a bear then the bear will surely try to dominate you. Bear was sitting in a corner with long thick plastic rope coming out of its nose. I had seen how Kalandars handle bears before, but now I can say seeing and doing is different especially in case of bear it is really different they are the most unpredictable animals. Already so many people have pulled the rope from outside, even little blood was coming out of the nose, this has made the bear more aggressive, so I decided that I wouldn’t pull the rope, first I will try to pet the bear. I reached near the bear and in first chance itself the bear attacked on me, and I have lost my favorite shirt, my first branded shirt. it was not only the shirt that was damaged but I also got a scratch mark on the chest…for which later on I have to give several explanations to my parents. I tried again, and same thing happened bear was not even giving me a chance to reach to the rope. But like in Hindi films, the third time I got success and the rope was in my hand. Then I sat near the bear and pet her for 20 minutes. I gave some honey to the bear, and then we made a continuous line of honey from the leopard enclosure to the transporting cage, we have kept the transportation cage at the entrance of the enclosure. Both the gates of the cage were open and I brought the bear slowly in the cage and came out of the cage from the other door. At last the bear was in the transportation cage. 

Rohit Singh
Technical Advisor-Eastern Plain Landscape-Law Enforcement
WWF Cambodia Country Programme
House #54, Street 352,
Boeung Keng Kang I,
PO Box 2467, Phnom Penh, Cambodia


  1. nice experience and good narration! slightly long story but I really like.
    good job Rohit


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