For the last nine years, Mangalurean Tauseef Ahmed has dedicated time and energy into rescuing over 8,000 animals from the streets. Apart from rescuing cats, dogs, reptiles and birds, the 31-year-old has even fielded threats from the cattle-mafia, and stood undeterred against all odds. It was not surprising then, that he became one of the youngest recipients of the prestigious ‘Best Street Care and Rescue’ award at the India for Animals (IFA) national conference held at Hyderabad recently.
The event was organised by FIAPO (Federation of Indian Animal Protection organisation) and Tauseef was selected from hundreds of other nominations. Recalling his journey, he says it has never been easy, but one needs to have a strong heart as many a time, animals are found in painful conditions.
Compassion towards animals was second natural to Tauseef Ahmed who was born and brought-up in the lush green Kudremukh in Chikmagalur district, but later moved to Mangaluru. "Initially, I felt a bit out of place when we moved due to the absence of nature and local wildlife. So, I decided to join Animal Care Trust (ACT) as a volunteer in 2010, and found solace in the company of rescued animals,” he says.
With his keen interest in animal welfare and eagerness to facilitate rescue efforts, Tauseef quickly rose through the ranks and soon in-charge of animal rescue operations of the team. "Almost a decade of rescue service has brought me closer to the animals in the city… many are kept in some of the most horrible and inhospitable conditions. Besides domesticated animals like cats, dogs and cattle, I have rescued snakes, squirrels and birds including endangered species of kingfishers, migratory ducks, owls, sea eagle. My most bizarre rescue is a monitor lizard which was stuck in a swimming pool,” he says.
While dogs are mainly injured due to road accidents, Tauseef observes that cows and the bulls are mostly victims of abuse inflicted by 'cattle-mafia'.
This ‘cattle-mafia’ deliberately leaves them in severely injured conditions in the coastal districts. They intently attack stray cattle with sharp weapons wait for them to bleed to death. And once dead, the miscreants conveniently transport the animal, Tauseef alleges. "In one heart wrenching case, a pregnant cow had both its front legs chopped off was left to die at Gurpur. In an attempt to save its own life, the cow rolled down a cliff. We then rescued it,” he says.
The rescued cow was named Radha by the ACT members, who also delivered her calf, and named him Bhim. Unfortunately, Radha died after giving birth to the calf.
Tauseef and other volunteers from ACT team actively took part in rescuing animals in flood-ravaged Kodagu too. “I have never conducted rescue operations during natural calamities, and it was a different kind of experience,” he says, adding that many animals were found in a critical condition.
“In the process of quick evacuation, several people hurriedly left without untying or releasing the animals, giving them no scope to escape on their own. We tried to release and save as many animals that were on the verge of dying. Many animals had starved. While we tried to bring the maximum animals to the rescue camp, the others were treated, fed and left in a safe condition,” he says.
To add to his skill set, the MBA graduate who also owns a real-estate firm, has also trained under a veterinarian, Dr Lakshmi, to be better equipped at first aid and basic treatment for injured animals. "This has been very helpful while providing immediate medical attention to animals that are found injured on-site. Most of the injured animals, if provided immediate relief, have better chances of survival,” he says.
Tauseef asserts that the ‘Best Street Care and Rescue’ award has only increased his motivation to keep doing what he does. “There are many who love animals, but rescuing them round-the-clock takes time, commitment as well as funds from one’s own pocket. Hence many find it difficult to volunteer long term,” he says.
For this purpose, he has started ‘Homeless Animals Rescue Team’ (HART) where he plans to train people in different districts to handle street rescue operations. Tauseef has also authored a book Straying Around and calls it an autobiography of a street dog inspired by his own rescues. He is currently working on his second book.