After working with various NGOs for three years, Hans, along with his wife Avantika Chandra, decided to start their own NGO called Prowl.
“I love tigers,” he says when asked to describe himself. Hans Dalal, a tiger conservationist, says that passion is all you need to work in this field.A sound engineer by profession, Hans first saw a tiger in 2007 when he was on a forest safari at the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. “The moment I saw the handsome animal, I fell in love and wanted to pursue a life around it. But I had my own music studio back in Mumbai then and needed to sort that out first. So I returned to Mumbai and in a year’s time, shut the studio with help from my wife,” Hans tells iamin.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He then took up a course in wildlife conservation with Tiger Watch, an NGO at Ranthambore and volunteered with a few other such NGOs post completing the seven-week course. “You meet a lot of like-minded people at the course. They acclimatize you with wildlife and its conservation at the course and that’s all you need. What is important is your passion for working in this area,” says Hans, who always had an interest in the outdoors, even as a child, when he was involved in a number of treks and expeditions.Hans, who has also been battling cerebral palsy, initially worked as a community conservation officer in Ranthambore. As a part of his job, he worked with villagers living close to the forests. “The nearby villages are highly affected by wildlife and vice versa. We work with these villagers in terms of educating them about the importance of conserving wildlife. There are many poachers among these villagers since that is their livelihood. We rehabilitated these poachers in different jobs. Some of them I also pulled into the music industry after stumbling upon a few singers among them. I thus combined my two passions – music and tiger conservation,” he says.Hans also went on to shoot a music video with some of these villagers and later made a 20-minute long documentary ‘With a little help’ on their life and work.After working with various NGOs for three years, Hans, along with his wife Avantika Chandra, decided to start their own NGO called Prowl. It was his wife’s dream to start their own venture and it was done in 2013. Prowl which tracks the movement of tigers with the help of camera traps between Maharashtra and Telangana and trace conflict tigers for the Maharashtra forest department. In coordination with local NGOs, it also conducts training programmes for forest guards as well as for villagers.“We teach the villagers about composting for manure and have recently also begun to tell them about organic farming so that they end up improving the soil quality in their locality. We want to reduce their forest dependence. They go to the forests for almost everything – from wood to food. We want to minimise man-animal conflicts,” said Hans, adding that the aim of Prowl is to involve local communities in tiger conservation.Hans narrates an incident he experienced in a forest in Maharashtra earlier this year. “It was right there, in front of me – a giant living tiger. I was on my feet and so was he. For the first couple of minutes I was blank – scared, numb, shocked and elated for being in such close proximity with him,” he recounts.“After a while, once I was stable, I told the others not to run,” he describes, adding that they were almost 18 of them including a team of the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF), one of whom then fired a couple of shots in the air and the tiger ran away.“It was one amazing experience,” exclaims Hans, who doesn’t sound like he is anywhere close to regretting choosing this way of life.Prowl is funded by donations from wildlife lovers and enthusiasts. But that is not enough, he says. “We are therefore building a resort near the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur, Maharashtra. That way we will be able to live in the forests, continue to work for tiger conservation and at the same time have a source of income,” he said.(Hans Dalal will be speaking at the TEDxGateway, Mumbai, on December 5, 2015 at NCPA)
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Tiger conservationist Hans Dalal aims to reduce conflict between man and animal