By Team Kalamwali in Stories » True Story
Updated 23:13 IST May 21, 2020

Views » 2362 | 3 min read


“Volunteers do not necessarily have the TIME; they just have the HEART.”

Elizabeth Andrew

The pandemic of COVID-19 and the lockdown has hit a pause button on the world. And maybe not in the form of a pandemic, but maybe the world needed to slow down. Maybe the world needed to think, reflect, feel, empathise and act. And maybe that’s the reason we get to see endless examples of exemplary heroism around us each day. While we can think of people, animals and strays who have suffered during the lockdown, there are humanitarians who have gone beyond that.

Here is a group of courageous people who have dedicated their lives to saving the lives of those we only read about in papers or fables. The GRASSLANDS TRUST is an organization which tracks wildlife that is surviving around cities. These are typically wolves, hyenas , leopards etc. Despite tremendous pressure from administrations, this trust tracks these big carnivores and their encounters with humans. This organization also comes across many shepherd and farmer families in the villages that play home to many straying wild animals.

When the lockdown was announced, Mihir and his team at GRASSLANDS TRUST realised that they will not be able to personally track and look after the wildlife often. So they appointed locals on a salary basis to track ANIMALS and get updates about their MOVEMENTS and SAFETY. In areas with SHORTAGE of WATER, they have sent water TANKERS and have requested local farmers to provide WATER to the ANIMALS. Over 30 FARMERS are FILLING UP WATERHOLES and making provisions to create small WATER POOLS for ANIMALS in the area.

Apart from this, they realised, due to lack of knowledge, many shepherd families were STRANDED and did not know how to apply for ONLINE TRAVEL PASSES to get back home, Mihir Godbole and team helped them get PERMISSIONS and brought them back to their homes. They RESCUED 15 SHEPHERD FAMILIES who were originally from Baramati, but were stranded in Chakan, and provided safe transit as well as food packets, oil, etc. to them during their transit.

In addition, they are also helping GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS AND ANIMAL RELATED NGOs by reporting CHANGES in WILDLIFE like UNUSUAL SIGHTINGS, AUDIO LEVELS in the cities, etc. Recently, with the help of local trackers, Grasslands Trust and team are monitoring movements of around 12-15 WOLVES in the areas of Saswad and Morgaon near Pune, in addition to 4 LEOPARDS and 3 active HYENA den sites. Godbole and his team have collaborated with NGOs and Government Wildlife Study Institutions to provide them with data about changes in wildlife activities taking place during the lockdown period and promise to release and publish the result only post lockdown for the wellness and safety of the animals and humans around them.

We are fortunate enough to belong to a community where we can ask for help and give help but the most vulnerable are the uncommunicative ANIMALS. The scorching heat and the struggle to find a drop of water have been real challenges for animals during the lockdown. But thanks to GRASSLANDS TRUST and Mihir Godbole, help is reaching them without disturbing them from their environment. Team Kalamwali salutes GRASSLANDS TRUST and MIHIR GODBOLE for going beyond the usual and empathising with those who can not even thank them for all this.

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