Peera Ram Bishnoi, was earning his livelihood working at his small puncture repair shop near National Highway-65. While working in the shop one day, he saw a black buck lying on the road on the verge of death, who had just been hit by a passing vehicle. He treated the animal from his meagre income and left him in the wild.
Over the next few years, he came across many such animals who were paying the price of man’s encroachment into their habitat. Being a Bishnoi, hailing from Dhamana village in Jalore dist, environment conservation is in his blood. Slowly, he started tending to these animals, took them to the vet, bought medicines and did whatever he could in his capacity. His home became a shelter for black bucks, deer, peacocks, vultures, rabbits, monkeys and others.
I used to work in my shop during day time and in the evenings, I used to visit civil servants, doctors, rich businessmen, to ask for help for taking care of these animals. In the beginning they were a little apprehensive but I gained their trust with my work,” said Peer Ram.
This, however, did not last very long and he was arrested on the charge of keeping wild animals in his home without any permission, which is against the law. He then decided to take permission from the government and set up a shelter farm for these animals in need, in the nearby wasteland of government.
Peera Ram started the farm with one deer on a small piece of land, but as time passed, he was granted more land from the government and now his shelter farm is spread over two acres.
People started pitching in. Chemists stopped charging me for medicines. Doctors took out time to treat the animals free of cost. Some gave me fodder, others gave me monetary help and some came to volunteer at the farm. Government has provided eight armed guards for the protection of endangered animals in my farm. I was even allowed by the authorities to train at the veterinary care in Jodhpur zoo for six months,” said Peera Ram with a hint of pride in his eyes.
Peera Ram was in Jaipur on Friday, to receive the ‘Earth Heroes Award’ given by Royal Bank of Scotland, to people who have dedicatedly worked to conserve the environment.
However, it wasn’t a bed of roses for him. Hunters and poachers targeted him many times. Peera Ram said that there were a few attempts on his life, as he got many hunters arrested who tried to hurt the animals.
He said, “People, who want to encroach on the land or hunters whose livelihood has been threatened with my work, have tried many times to attack me but somehow I have survived. Authorities are supporting me. At present, there are 600 animals in my farm and in the past 10 years, I have taken care of around 1,200 animals.”
Peera Ram still runs the puncture shop and with the help of his family members, has become an idol for the people in Dhamana village.