This engineer quit his job to combat tiger poaching3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
One day, on his way back home from work, M. Suraj saw a badly hurt snake who succumbed to its injuries. That incident was a turning point for this mechanical engineer from Chattisgarh. At that point, he had graduated in 2011, and was working as a lecturer. But his love for wildlife brought him to its conservation. He quit his job to rescue snakes. He also connected with similar groups to save spotted deers, hyenas, monkeys, leopards, and birds in the forest area.
In 2016, Suraj found the cause of tiger conservation after a meeting with the then Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Alok Tiwari who was already impressed with his work. He helped Suraj get on board with the tiger monitoring team in 2016-17 at Bhoramdeo wildlife sanctuary. This sanctuary shares a boundary with the Kanha tiger reserve.
Till 2018, he worked on tiger monitoring. It was only in 2018 when the death of a certain tiger jolted him that he began looking for ways to combat tiger poaching.
How did it start?
Snares are traps used by poachers that are spread across forests to catch and injure wild animals (Do you remember Snares to Wares?) To combat this, Suraj suggested anti-snare walks as a way to identify and remove snares from forests.
Owliver’s Obscure Observation:
In the last 9 years in India, 24 tigers and 100 leopards have succumbed to injuries incurred by snare traps.
In 2019, Suraj along with the Forest Department launched a six-month-long pilot project covering the 14 villages of the forest reserve. During the project, they identified 300 sites of poaching. During harvesting season, the traps are placed near farms. At other times, these traps are found near water bodies or on the trail of herbivorous animals. To avoid discovery, these traps are placed between late evening to early morning.
The team found 150 snares made of wood, nylon, catch nets, steel wires, brake wires, motorcycle clutch wires and mouth bombs.
What’s next for Suraj?
Suraj has been working hard to bring awareness to the local people residing in the reserve area who rely entirely on the forests for resources. He has also received a grant worth ten lakh rupees from the Habitat Trust. He intends on using this money towards expanding anti-snare walks across 22 ranges of the National Park. Suraj believes that once his anti-snare model is successful here, it can easily be replicated in other cities.
Owliver wishes Suraj the best in his mission to conserve wildlife!
Sourced from The Better India