[Monday Motivation] Meet Anil Bishnoi who has saved over 10K blackbucks over 30 years

Anil Bishnoi, a 48-year-old farmer and conservationist from Rajasthan, has managed to save 10,000 blackbucks from poachers over 30 years.
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Rarely do we come across people who work tirelessly for a cause for decades. A 48-year-old cotton and mustard farmer from Rajasthan, Anil Bishnoi, is one of them.

A resident of the Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan, Anil has dedicated his life to the conservation of the blackbucks. For the last three decades, he has been campaigning to save them in their natural habitat, and due to habitat loss and poaching, he even started an active campaign against poachers across 50 panchayats.

“I have come across a number of poachers who believe that it’s okay to kill animals for leisure purposes. This is one of the reasons that provoked me to start a mission to guard these animals in Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar in 1990,” Anil says.

Anil Bishnoi with some young blackbucks

He has lodged more than 200 cases of poaching and nearly 24 cases reached the final stage where the poachers were sentenced to appropriate penalties.

Additionally, in his own capacity and with the help of fellow residents, Anil has built over 60 small to medium-sized water bodies to cater to the needs of the blackbucks.

How it started

Anil belongs to the Bishnoi community, which believes in the reincarnation of their Guru Bhagwan Jambeshwar, who has always preached to take care of wildlife. The community considers blackbucks sacred and are known to make sacrifices to guard the animals. They believe that each creature has the right to live peacefully.

Hailing from a village that had an excessive blackbuck population, he was aware of people who have been working towards saving them.

However, it was in his college days that Anil decided to do something serious towards saving the wildlife. In 1990, while he was studying in a Suratgarh college, he happened to participate in a conference that spread awareness on deforestation and killing of the wildlife.

“This made me rethink my life’s philosophy and had a deep impact on my mind,” recalls Anil.

After ending his BEd and BA, Anil returned to his village only to learn about the poaching of blackbucks taking place around. He soon took up farming pulses and grains on his ancestral land.

Saving the blackbucks

Blackbucks are mostly hunted down for their meat. Apart from this, they also succumb to injuries due to canine bites, excessive climates, and street accidents.

Anil started a marketing campaign to cease poachers and save the blackbucks. Initially, he used to reach the scene whenever he felt danger. He started to observe the poachers — how they catch the animals, where they come from, and what they do with the blackbucks. Slowly, with the help of locals, he started reaching the spot to save these creatures.

Anil visits courts as a witness and follows up with the instances until an appropriate sentence is given. At instances, he even organises peaceable rallies to sensitise folks to the problem. Today, he works with a workforce of 3,000 folks throughout 12 districts of Rajasthan.

“Wherever we get a call from to save blackbucks, we go and make a committee there if we see that the area has a high number of blackbucks. We then tackle the situation through phone, giving them instructions on what to do according to the situation,” explains Anil.

However, in the course of saving them, Anil has been threatened many times by poachers. Many other times, he had to brave cold climatic conditions and COVID-19 to go on a motorcycle to help these deer. In all these times, he believed in his cause and mission to save these innocent animals.

According to Anil, he has saved and taken care of over 10,000 blackbucks — without getting much external financial help.

Work not done

In view of Anil’s exceptional work, the Government of Rajasthan accorded a unique status by nominating him as the state’s Honorary Wildlife Warden. He was also awarded the Dalmia Water Environment Protection Award and State level Amrita Devi Environmental Protection Award for his work on conservation of the environment and water conservation.

Recently, he was awarded the Earth Hero Award by NatWest Group India.

Apart from saving blackbucks, Anil has convinced his fellow villagers to create temporary waterholes for a large number of deer to beat the intense heat. Farmers have dug up about 70 troughs — many of them in their own agricultural fields — in an area of over 60 sq km, and filled them up with water to quench the thirst of these wild animals.

While his efforts lead to building a small shelter home for the deer, Anil believes that things are not done yet.

“There are no official safety facilities from the government to take care of blackbucks. Since there are no proper jungles here, we cannot send the deer there either. Since 2004, I have been working towards having more rescue centres across places so that we can transport the blackbucks to the nearby rescue centres instead of transporting them to farther places- causing more injuries.”
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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