Twenty-nine years old Pawan Sharma is the founder and driving force behind Resqink, or Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW). A lawyer by profession and a graduate in journalism and mass communication, he has chosen to make his passion his profession. He practices law and uses his knowledge in the field for the defense of animals.
Resqink is pronounced rescue ink. Rescue means the act of rescuing [those] distressed and ink signifies blood flowing through our systems. Together they mean that the act and feeling of rescuing someone in distress is something flowing through our system. It was during my university studies that I coined this term and created a group of like-minded people interested in serving wildlife. It was around 2010. In 2012, when I was about 20 years old, I decided to register Resqink as an NGO. [non-governmental organisation] called RAWW in order to work in a more organized way.
Between January and March of this year, there were over 285 rescues. Apart from that, 70 star tortoises were returned to the wild, 10 baby orphan parakeets and 6 baby bonnet macaques were hand-raised. Over 80 wild birds and over 20 red sand boas, rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, have been rehabilitated.
On average, we get around 70 to 100 calls per week. In summer, this figure rises to 100 to 150 due to cases of dehydration and during the monsoon due to travel due to extreme weather conditions.
I used to save animals during my school years and had quite a few pets. I was fascinated by the non-human living beings who shared space with us. When I was 13, I rescued a snake from my own backyard that had killed one of our community kittens, who were fed and taken care of by me and my family. The snake was supposed to be found and eliminated, which was a fairly common thing that was done before. However, I felt that they were part of society and that they deserved to live. Everything that had happened was a very natural act, and the reptile hadn’t harmed any human; being a predator, he killed and ate the little kitten. It was pretty sad to lose the kitten, but I had a good idea of ââthe food chain.
I lived in the suburb of Mulund, which shares space with the forests of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. There was a lot of flora and fauna in and around the suburbs and instances of interactions and conflicts with wildlife were quite common. The first snake rescue boosted my confidence and I thought about saving more [animals] in the future, and this is how I was then known in my area for rescuing reptiles, birds and [other] animals.
The journey was not easy as these things were not accepted, and I had to face a lot of opposition and demotivation from society as well as some of my family. However, I continued to nurture my passion by staying focused. Then over the years I saved a lot of snakes and [other] reptiles, but there was always a part of the people who had to resist. Growing up I started to save more [animals], and people started to say more and more things about me. They went so far as to say that I might be involved in illegal activities like smuggling snakes and selling their venom or that I might one day die from a snakebite, and so on.
Honorary Wildlife Guard
When I was 18, I contacted the forestry department and started recording all my rescues with them and volunteering at the department during wildlife rescues or conflict situations. This continued for years, and in 2017, at the age of 25, I was named Honorary Wildlife Custodian due to the extensive work of rescue, awareness and conservation. [I had done] with the Forestry Department. Initially, I was appointed Honorary Animal Welfare Officer by the state government.
We’ve been doing this for over a decade [now] and knowing almost nothing to knowing a lot and learning every day, we are progressing as an organization.
Overall, however, there are a lot of issues that need to be improvised, dealt with, and looked into, which I’m sure will be done gradually. Urban wildlife faces many threats due to uncontrolled development. People need to understand that every act counts, from the proper use of electricity and water to producing less waste and disposing of it properly.
It is outside our homes that we must judge the true standard of living: our environment and wildlife are the real indicators. Well-being and conservation are two different things, and as a society we are still too immature to deal with and manage our conflicts with wildlife and find ways to alleviate them. There is a serious need not only for NGOs or government departments, but for all important stakeholders and citizens to join this movement and participate. And, most importantly, support local NGOs as much as possible in any way you can.