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| Last Updated:06/07/2020

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Sunderbans’ ex-poachers now help save its wildlife

                                                                                                                                       Pune Mirror, New Delhi, 25th March, 2015

KOLKATA Anil Mistry, 48, who lives on Bali island in the Sunderbans, was a poacher. For 15 years now, he has been helping save the animals he once killed. He is one of the many poachers who have turned conservationists, bringing hope to conservationists fighting to save the world's largest mangrove forest threatened by rising sea level and climate change.

"My entire family, since my grandfather's generation had been traditional hunters in the region," Mistry said. "But now I am working for the cause of conservation of Sunderbans, which is like my mother."

Why did he quit hunting?

"In the late 90s, I had killed a mother deer. Her fawns kept gathering around her body and the sight changed me forever," he said. "After I left poaching I convinced several of my friends to work for conservation. Now we have a team of 12 people spread across the Sunderbans and we work with different NGOs to fight against poaching and sensitise people about climate change."

Manturam Pakhira, West Bengal minister in charge of the Sunderbans, said, "They are doing a tremendous job. The Sunderbans Development Board works closely with them."

Ratul Saha , World Wildlife Fund coordinator for the Sunderbans, said the team's familiarity with the landscape and their poachers' contacts have helped.