Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'
The Bishnoi protect the chinkara and other wild animals as part of their faith. They are actively involved in keeping vigil and rescuing wild animals from road accidents and feral dog attacks.
The Bishnoi is a community found in the Thar desert and northern states of India. They follow 29 principles / commandments, laid by their founder Guru Jambeshwar in the 15th century, thus the name (Bish- 20, noi- 9). One major principle pertains to the protection and compassion for all life, refraining from tree cutting and hunting animals. They worship the khejri tree (Prosopis cineraria), chinkara (Gazella bennettii), and blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) and will go to any lengths to protect them. Their association with nature conservation inspired the Chipko movement of the 1970s in Uttarakhand.
The Bishnois are actively involved in vigil over the poaching of wild animals and rescuing injured wild animals. They run wild animal care centres in various districts of Western Rajasthan like Jalore, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Nagaur and Barmer. These centres receive little or no funding support from the government and depend either on personal expenses or private donations for sustenance. The only government-based rescue centre is at the Machia Biological Park in Jodhpur. All images © Chetan Rao and Bhanwar Lal Bishnoi (second image). Article continues below the images.
One of the biggest rescue centres in Western Rajasthan is located in Dhamna, Sanchore, Jalore district of western Rajasthan (in the pictures). This centre hosts hundreds of different rescued chinkara, blackbuck, nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus), Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), and Hanuman langur (Semnopithecus entellus).
Over the past decade, feral dogs have emerged as a major threat to wildlife in this region and most rescued animals are victims of dog attacks. Annually, more than 50-70 wild ungulates are rescued and treated at various centres. The animals once nursed to health are released back into the wild under the supervision of the forest department. In case of severe cases, the animals are treated at the government-run centre in Jodhpur. Apart from feral dog attacks, human-wildlife conflict due to crop depredation and road accidents are the other threats to wildlife in these areas.