The man who rescues snakes, reptiles and other animals in Gurugram and NCRgurgaon Updated: Aug 09, 2018 14:08 IST
Anil Gandass with a peacock he rescued. (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
Anil Gandass is somewhat of a legend among wildlife enthusiasts in the city. The man has single-handedly rescued all manner of snakes and reptiles from the urban jungle that is Gurugram and the rest of the National Capital Region. On most days, these include cobras, pythons, rat snakes and even monitor lizards, who unwittingly stray into homes, or some other predicament. However, on what he considers lucky days, Gandass might even get his hands on a checkered keelback snake, krait, or a wolf snake, species which aren’t as common.
Gandass’ repertoire isn’t just limited to reptiles though. Every now and then, he will hear of a peacock, hedgehog, or even a leopard who needs rescuing, and will arrive at the scene at the drop of a hat to do the job. “It’s what I pursue full time, there’s nothing else I enjoy more,” he says, the excitement palpable in his voice.
One might even compare Gandass to the likes of Steve Irwin, Australia’s famous ‘crocodile hunter’, though Gandass doesn’t perform for people’s entertainment. “I only do it for the welfare of animals,” he said. In fact, Gandass says he hasn’t pocketed a single rupee, either in revenue or in profit, in the last 10 odd years as a full-time snake rescuer.
A native of Gadoli Khurd village on Pataudi Road in Sector 37-C, Gandass,42, comes from a family of agricultural labourers. “I used to work in the zamindar’s fields with my father and other farmers. I remember as a child encountering various snakes in the fields while ploughing them. It was common practice back then to simply kill the snakes and carry on, but this unnerved me a lot. What’s the snake’s fault? It’s actually us who are invading its home,” said Gandass, who decided instead to catch the snakes and release them elsewhere. These are Gandass’ first memories of rescuing serpents.
With the increasing urbanisation of Gurugram, the zamindar eventually sold off his farmland and Gandass’ family fell out of agriculture. “Now, I have a few properties which I own in Gurugram that I rent out, and that keeps the bills paid and allows me to rescue snakes full-time,” Gandass says. He has been in the vocation since 2008. “I buy my own equipment, drive my own vehicle, and I do the rescues without any assistance. All it takes is some patience and a willingness to trust the animal. It’s instinctive. I can’t teach someone else how to do it,” Gandass said.
His main ‘clients’, so to speak, are the wildlife department, who lack manpower to carry out tricky rescue operations, the type of which are child’s play for Gandass. Over the years, though, they have been relying on him more and more. “In just the first eight months of 2018, I have done 50% more rescues than I did last year,” Gandass says, bemoaning the increasing conflict between humans and animals, in which the animals always end up suffering.
Vinod Kumar, the additional principal chief conservator of forests, Gurugram, said Gandas is energetic and a wildlife enthusiast. “We were looking for people who wanted to serve wildlife and he volunteered to help our team in rescue operations. Many a times, he himself conducts the rescue operations as he is well trained. He has a good coordination with the team and we trust him,” Kumar said.
The farmlands in which Gandass learned how to rescue snakes have slowly been swallowed up by the urban sprawl of Gurugram. But many of the snakes are still around, and so is Gandass, who is always willing to rescue them.
First Published: Aug 09, 2018 14:08 IST