Aaliya Mir, Kashmir’s teacher turned wildlife conservationist

By: Tabbasum Aziz/IANS

Srinagar: While most people are afraid of snakes and other wild animals, Aaliya Mir has grabbed fear by the neck.

Mir, 42, from Srinagar is a courageous woman who performs feats with great courage, skill and passion that leaves everyone amazed. Aaliya is on a mission to reduce the growing conflict between animals and humans and provide protection to animals.

She is working for Wildlife SOS, a non-governmental organisation and is also part of the rescue team of the Wildlife Department. Aaliya has previously been a mathematics teacher. However, since childhood, her compassion and affection towards animals has drawn her towards this work.

Aaliya is not only skilled in catching venomous snakes, but also has the unique ability to save dangerous wild animals like bears and leopards. Recently she rescued a 6-foot-long snake from a shelter outside the civil secretariat in the winter capital, Srinagar.

In the Kashmir Valley, the news of wild animals moving towards human settlements is increasing day by day, which also leads to incidents of conflict between humans and animals. Attacks on humans by wild animals have cost many precious lives so far and many people have also been badly injured. In recent years, many people, including small children, have lost their lives after being attacked by leopards and bears in the Kashmir valley, especially in the remote areas.

Aaliya has been associated with SOS since 2007. Even though she has saved hundreds of animals, she only hit the headlines when she caught a snake from former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Gupkar Road residence. After that, Aaliya started hitting the headlines often. While her courage and work has been appreciated in every way, Aaliya says that the only purpose of her life is to reduce the conflict between animals and humans so that both can live in their own circles in a peaceful way.

She initially felt hesitant and afraid to do this work, but with time, the motivation increased and she became better at her work. Women have often been called a ‘delicate gender’, but women with their ability and courage have made a unique and distinct identity even in those fields which were previously only limited to men but have also performed the tasks that seemed impossible for a woman.

Due to the rapid deforestation, wild animals are forced to move towards human habitats, which has also led to an alarming increase in human-animal conflicts. Amid this situation, Aaliya organises awareness programs along with providing protection to animals.

According to her, when an animal goes to a settlement in search of food, the brutality of these animals emerges in response to the collective malaise of the people, which then sometimes becomes the cause of loss of human lives and so on. These incidents have seen several deaths over the years.

Currently, Aaliya is working as a Project Manager at Wildlife SOS which is working in collaboration with the Wildlife Department of Kashmir. Wildlife SOS (SOS) is a non-governmental conservation organisation working on the rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals since 1995. (IANS)

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