On Ameenpur, Hyderabad, 37-year-old Pradeep Nair’s house is a rare sight. He shares his home with over a dozen dogs, affected with various disabilities, impairments and those without limbs.
Pradeep has adopted and is sheltering these dogs, which otherwise don’t find “preference” among those looking to find a pet. But he is an animal lover who rescues and helps animals in pain without any hesitation — be it an injured bird stuck in a manja (thread used to fly kites), a dog having fallen in a well, an injured monkey in the backyard, or a snake that has lost his way inside a neighbourhood house. In fact, he has been doing so since he was a student.
Pradeep completed his graduation in 2007 and started working as a software developer in the IT industry. However, he could not let go of his love for animals. He worked with NGOs including Blue Cross as a volunteer in his free time. The passion for rescuing and saving animals in danger only grew strong over time.
As he volunteered and was associated with different initiatives, Pradeep learned that while many people work to rescue animals in distress, only a handful of human resources, finances and equipment exist to address the issue. Moreover, rescuing animals in a life-threatening situation sometimes demands long hours and persistent efforts.
Citing an example to The Better India, Pradeep says, “On New Year’s Eve in 2018, we received a call from a local that there was a puppy stuck inside the boulders on the outskirts of the rocky mountain of the city. The local had followed the cries of the dog to the spot and called us for rescue. The operation took 48 hours. So while people were welcoming the new year, we were struggling to save a puppy.”
This is one instance among thousands where Pradeep has gone out of his way to rescue animals. From jumping in wells to rescue buffaloes to saving porcupines and baby elephants, he has done it all and rescued over 77,000 animals to date.
An animal’s best friend
Pradeep says that such operations require finances, time and resources, which make them difficult. “Hence, I decided to focus on tactical rescuing that involves finding innovative solutions to help animals in need. In 2012, a handful of volunteers joined, and we started Animal Warriors India with a Facebook page and stepped up work,” he adds.
Pradeep receives calls from people who spot animals in distress. “We may have to head down a 100-foot well or strategise makeshift arrangements. At times, the resources or equipment have to be procured from elsewhere,” he explains.
Aravind, an IT professional from Hyderabad, says he met Pradeep on a similar occasion when he reported a dog in need of rescue in 2017. “The team of volunteers rushed and took all efforts to safely rescue it. Pradeep and his team are highly skilled and have experience in handling difficult situations. I have joined other rescue missions where animals even find themselves stuck in plastic containers. It is difficult to chase and rescue an animal when it is hyper and under trauma,” he adds.
During the 2018 Kerala floods, Pradeep and his team reached the state to rescue snakes, dogs, cats and wild animals stuck in the floods. “We rescued 480 animals in 40 hours. The experience also helped us learn that there are no dedicated agencies to rescue animals during a natural calamity or disaster. Since then, we extend support across south India to local NGOs and government departments in rescuing animals from cyclones, floods and other calamities,” he adds.
‘A rare asset’
“Since my early days, I have rescued 10-15 animals a day. On many occasions, I worked from 3 am until 11 pm. Initially, the animals were mainly cats, dogs, snakes, monkeys and others. Later on, we started focusing on wild animals and birds such as jungle cats, flamingos, monitor lizards, and pelicans. All the wild animals rescued in the vicinity of Hyderabad are taken to the Nehru Zoological Park for treatment,” he says. “We have no facility to take care of wild animals for days. The zoo serves as a haven for such needy animals.”
In 2018, he quit his IT job and decided to focus all his energy on rescuing animals. “My wife Santoshi also met me during one such rescue drive, and so she understands my passion. Together, we started and registered the NGO Animal Warriors Conservation Society and hired two others,” he says.
Subhadra Devi, deputy conservator of forest and curator at the park, says, “Pradeep’s work is commendable and he shows no hesitation in spending money from his own pocket to travel 200-300 km for rescue work. The department ropes him in when needed and understands his skills in handling animals.”
Subhadra says that trained citizens like Pradeep can play a vital role in rescuing animals. “It is not always possible for officials to reach the location during a distress call. Trained locals or individuals like him can provide timely intervention to save the animal,” she adds.
When Pradeep saw animals consuming or becoming entangled in plastic products, he started cleanliness drives along lakes and other areas. “We have collected 6,500 kilos of plastic waste so far,” he adds.
Aravind says that Pradeep has taken a brave decision to dedicate his life to animal rescue. “I am an IT professional too but don’t have the courage to give up my job and dedicate my life to saving animals full time. There is a lack of motivation and money in the sector. At times difficult and painful decisions are to be made, such as whether to let the animal go and relieve it from the pain during extreme health conditions. Moreover, the risks to your own life are immense during rescue operations. But he’ll head down a 100-foot well swiftly.”
He adds, “There is pure passion behind the effort. Pradeep’s uniqueness is in that the work is not limited to his NGO. He extends support to others or animal rescuers in the network to provide the right assistance. I am glad that people like Pradeep are around,” he adds.
To donate for Pradeep’s cause, click here.
Edited by Divya Sethu