English language news articles from year 2007 plus find out everything about Asiatic Lion and Gir Forest. Latest News, Useful Articles, Links, Photos, Video Clips and Gujarati News of Gir Wildlife Sanctuary (Geer / Gir Forest - Home of Critically Endangered Species Asiatic Lion; Gir Lion; Panthera Leo Persica ; Indian Lion (Local Name 'SAVAJ' / 'SINH' / 'VANRAJ') located in South-Western Gujarat, State of INDIA), Big Cats, Wildlife, Conservation and Environment.
One balmy morning in March 2013, residents of Jalandhar
village in Junagadh, Gujarat, woke up to a commotion around an
under-construction well. In the night, a leopard had fallen into the
The village we are talking about lies on the periphery of the Gir
National Park, recognized as the last abode of the Asiatic Lion. People
living here are used to spotting big cats in their backyards. In this
case, like many others, the crowd around the well kept increasing and
everyone was talking about the fate of the leopard.
The wildlife rescue team from the forest department was
quick to respond, but then there was the question of who would go down
the narrow shaft of the well. Rasila P. Vadher, 29, the only woman in
the rescue and rehabilitation team of the forest department in Gir,
“The leopard had fallen to a depth of about 40-50 feet.
There was very little light inside and space to manoeuvre for
tranquilising the animal,” says Vadher.
A parrot cage, a specially designed metal cage in the
shape of a traditional bird cage used by the forest department for
rescue operations, was brought in for the job. These types of cages are
built to accommodate a human being and Vadher snugly fitted into it;
slowly and steadily she was lowered into the dark pit. The leopard was
by now in a frenzy.
When Vadher was just 10 feet away from the leopard, she
fired her dart gun and tranquilised the big cat. After making sure the
tranquiliser had taken effect, she got out of the metal cage and secured
the animal, which was pulled out. Vadher came the same way she went in.
The leopard was then taken back to the national park and released in
Since her enrolment in the forest department in 2008,
Vadher has taken part in over 800 rescues in and around Gir. Rescues
from wells, pits, people’s homes, farms and other places—the number
includes over 400 leopards, 200 lions, crocodiles, pythons and and
birds. But she particularly remembers this particular rescue mission.
Ask Vadher how it feels like to encounter a lion on foot
and she calmly replies, “The lion is like a family member, it never
attacks; if it doesn’t want you to come closer it will give a warning
for you to go away. We understand the mood of the animal by the twitch
of the ear or tail. ”
Vadher’s knowledge of different species and her skills in
handling individual animals in tricky situations have helped in
mitigating human-wildlife conflict in villages around Sasan Gir.
Each rescue mission is a new challenger. Whenever duty
calls, Vadher also joins anti-poaching patrols nabbing poachers. She
also participates in awareness programmes and nature camps to sensitise
villagers living along the periphery of the Gir National Park.
Vadher’s exemplary courage and dedication has been lauded
by not only the forest department and locals but also Narendra Modi
when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. Modi took the initiative to
appoint women staff as Van Raksha Sahayaks (forest guards) in 2007, and praised their exemplary role in wildlife conservation.
Vadher grew up in Bhanduri village, Junagadh. After her
father’s death, her mother worked as a daily labourer to make ends meet.
In spite of the hardships, she saw to it that her two children went to
school. Vadher went on to graduate with a first class bachelor’s degree
in Hindi, from Saurashtra University. Today she is the only earning
member in her family and takes care of her mother and younger brother.
In 2007, Vadher got an opportunity to join the State
Reserve Police Force but decided to stick to her job as a forest guard.
“Everything in the forest interests me—from the scorpion, trees and
birds to the big cats.”
Apart from her duty as a rescue forester, Vadher loves
sports and photography. “I love to play chess; I once played at the
national level in Goa and came fourth in the competition. I look forward
to our department’s annual sports day on 26 January. This year, I
participated in long jump, 100-200 metre run, badminton and chess,” says
Brij Bihari Sharma, Dev Singh, Rakesh Kumar and Rasila
Vadher have been recognized through Hem Chand Mahindra Wildlife
Foundation and Saevus Wildlife Warriors Awards, 2014.
This year, seven people will be felicitated with the Wildlife Warrior Awards. They are:
1. Biraj Barman, forester – Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, Assam
6. Joint award to: Atulkumar Bhanusankar Dave – (range
forest officer) & Isha Hasan Sumra (watchman) of Kutch Bustard
This is the second blog in a two-part series profiling
two of the winners of Wildlife Warriors 2014 awards, this year’s
edition of which will be presented on Monday at the Bombay Natural
History Society (BNHS), Mumbai. The awards have been instituted to
honour the foot soldiers of India’s national parks and wildlife