Month Year: October 2001
Lifetime Service Award
Retired Forest Guard, Dachigam National Park.
Born and brought up in his beloved Kashmir, for over four decades, he has walked the Himalayan home of the endangered hangul, protected them from poachers, been attacked by black bears (and blamed himself for the encounters) and has taught animal behaviour to virtually all the experts who have written reams on the natural history of this amazing Kashmiri wildlife haven. “Save these precious hangul, they represent the heritage of generations unborn,” he has repeated ad nauseum to Prime Ministers, government officials, researchers and thousands of children with whom he has tramped this wonderland.
Heartbroken at the bloodshed that has shaken the people of the ‘Happy Valley’, he prays for better days. And at every sentence he recalls wistfully those wonderful days when thousands of Kashmiri school children would walk with him through ‘his’ Dachigam, seeking to save their hangul: “Inshallah, woh din jald hi laut ayenge.” (“By the grace of God those days will soon return.”)
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXI No. 5, October 2001.