Vadodara’s ‘bravest’ crocodile rescuer dies at 43

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“He was a man of actual expertise. Apart from being an excellent rescuer of crocodiles, snakes and even leopards, he was an amazing demonstrator and trainer. He knew his work thoroughly,” said Aradhana Sahu, Conservator of Forest, Vadodara.

By: Express News Service | Vadodara | Published: September 19, 2018 8:29:25 am

Vadodara lost one of its bravest crocodile rescuer, Rakesh Vadhwana, who died of heart attack on Monday. He was 43. “He was a man of actual expertise. Apart from being an excellent rescuer of crocodiles, snakes and even leopards, he was an amazing demonstrator and trainer. He knew his work thoroughly,” said Aradhana Sahu, Conservator of Forest, Vadodara.

“At multiple occasions, I had invited him to train and conduct workshops for our teams there and he always obliged. Many rescuers today are a product of his training,” said Sahu who knew Vadhwana from the days when she was posted in Aravalli and Sabarkantha. In a census conducted in 2015 by the Forest Department, it was found that Vishwamitri river, which flows through Vadodara, had 260 crocodiles, a sharp increase from 206 in the 2011 census. With numbers of the reptiles multiplying rapidly, many crocodiles tend to enter nearby residential areas from the river during monsoon, thereby seeking the help of crocodile rescuers. Forest Department officials claimed that Vadodara has many wildlife lovers who carry out minor rescue operations, but with Vadhwana’s death, the city now has only four efficient crocodile rescuers who can dare to carry out major operations with adequate expertise. Vadhwana had been actively involved in rescuing crocodiles. According to his friends, one of his last major rescue operation was in the month of July, when he had helped rescue four crocodiles in 24 hours — among them an 11-foot long crocodile that was spotted opposite a hotel in the city.

Vadhwana is survived by wife and a 16-year-old son.

“We have many fond memories of him and we want his name to be recognised by generations to come. We are planning to conduct events like photo exhibitions which will be dedicated to him,” said his friend and an avid bird watcher, Kartik Upadhayay.

“Around five years ago, a 13-foot-long crocodile was rescued. The crocodile was a notorious one and had killed and injured many people. But Rakesh (Vadhwana) was on the forefront and rescued him. We had used a monkey cage to keep him, and since the crocodile was pretty long, it broke away from the cage. While most of us were scared, Rakesh managed to rescue him again and safely put him back into another cage. He knew the best… how to be around wild animals,” said Upadhayay.

(The India News Staff does not claim ownership of this content, source sited above)

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