Hans Dalal was born with cerebral palsy. He was delivered premature, as things got complicated due to delay in blood transfusion when he contracted jaundice, and that left him with a speech and movement impairment. He could not walk on his own till he was 6 years old. Fast forward a few decades and he is a celebrated tiger conservationist, wildlife photographer, documentary filmmaker, and musician.
Hans took his first steps when he was six years old. Physiotherapy treatment was painful. “My parents ignored my pleas for mercy. The doctors followed suit. They said they wouldn’t allow me to meet my mother until I made the effort to walk,” he told the Times of India. “If I got lazy, mom got angry. I’m happy she did. I would’ve been a vegetable today,” he adds. While struggling to do his basic tasks, he managed school and did sound engineering from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
After working as a sound engineer with the likes of Vishal-Shekhar, and jazz artist Trilok Gurtu for seven years, in 2007, his life changed course. He saw a tiger in the wild at Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha National Park and was fascinated. He decided to join the national park as a Community Conservation Officer, and help NatGeo in their tiger tracking programmes. “I was leaving the safe studio indoors for the wild. Mom would kill me if she knew what I did. I can’t cross streams over narrow bridges or jump across stones. So, I wade,” he admits. “It slows the group, and once a group leader told me off for it. But you manage.”
According to Rediff, Hans is also a Right to Information activist for causes related to tiger conservation, and has worked in more than 20 of India’s protected forests for tigers. He also loves wildlife photography. Although his hands shiver, none of his photographs give away his condition. He has also made a heart-warming documentary and lovely music featuring women and children of the Moghiya tribe of Rajasthan, as he continues to inspire us all. Here’s a video on his life, made by Vista Print.
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