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A day in the life of...

Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS, in New Delhi, helps to protect India’s wildlife

This is a feature from Issue 14 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.

A typical day

A typical day means anything from extricating an annoyed 11ft-long Indian Rock python snake from a bus parked on a busy street in south Delhi to helping to manoeuvre five-ton elephants on to our elephant ambulance for the all-night journey to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. At other times I might be posing as a decoy to help gather intelligence on illegal wildlife traffickers and then working with the police to bust poaching gangs.

My fellow co-founder Geeta Seshamani and I created Wildlife SOS in 1995; at this time, we were the only experts in the National Capital Region who could aid in wildlife rescues. We started receiving calls from the public, police and the Forest Department to assist with the rescue of wild animals, birds and reptiles so we had no choice but to start operating a wildlife hotline out of Geeta’s small garage in South Delhi. 

Our goals were simple – to help wild animals in distress and to help spread awareness, while building compassion and kindness to nurture the co-existence of people with nature and wildlife. Today, the organisation actively protects India’s precious wildlife, conserves habitats, studies biodiversity, conducts wildlife research, and creates alternative and sustainable livelihoods for erstwhile communities dependent on wildlife for sustenance and converts poachers into protectors. Wildlife SOS is the largest wildlife rescue organisation in India and runs over 12 wildlife rescue & rehabilitation centres across India. 

When I’m not helping rescue leopards from school cafeterias or rat snakes from banks, I oversee conservation projects, anti-poaching operations, fire-fighting issues, and day-to-day operations of various rescue centres. My favourite days are those when I am working at one of our rescue centres. I’ll check in on how, for example, the resident elephants are getting on, and meet with our veterinary team to analyse individual treatment strategies. It’s extremely fulfilling to watch the animals go about their daily lives and these moments leave me smiling ear to ear.

the hardest thing...

…is having to witness senseless acts of brutality and cruelty unleashed by merciless humans on innocent and voiceless animals. No matter how many years I’ve worked in this field, I still find it very distressing to learn about a rhinoceros hacked to death by poachers for its horn or an elephant killed for its ivory. Humans easily forget that our very existence is intrinsically linked to animals and without them, our lives would be over.

The best BIT...

…was when we carried out a very challenging elephant rescue operation to save Raju, who’d spent decades being forced to beg on the streets. He was forced to wear spiked chains that would leave deep pus-filled wounds in his legs, and it was a very emotional moment when we were finally able to remove those heavy chains.

Wildlife SOS
We make lasting change to protect and conserve India’s natural heritage, forest and biodiversity.

charitable.travel/wildlife-sos/

This is a feature from Issue 14 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.