Meet Arunima, first Indian woman to rescue dangerous reptiles like crocodiles, gharials

Rescuing aquatic creatures is her passion; she was called after forest department team could not catch a distressed gharial in Bhopal

Bhopal: It is not easy even for experts to catch dangerous aquatic creatures like crocodiles and gharials. But Arunima Singh is the first woman in the country to rescue aquatic reptiles. She has so far rescued more than 18 dangerous aquatic creatures like gharials and crocodiles.

Forest dept failed to catch gharial, then Arunima was called

Arunima specializes in catching gharials and crocodiles. The Madhya Pradesh forest department team had failed to catch a gharial in the Kaliasot dam in the city. A large chunk of fishing net had got entangled in the 10.5-feet-long reptile’s upper jaw and so it needed immediate help.

A rescue team from Lucknow, led by Arunima Singh, captured the reptile. Arunima is the project coordinator of Lucknow’s Kukrail Gharial Rehabilitation Centre and has been working there for the last 6-7 years.

‘Now reptiles are my life’

Arunima Singh said, “I grew up like ordinary girls, my father was an officer in the health department. I have an elder brother and mother is a housewife. Once my school provided me an opportunity to make a project on wildlife. When I told my father, he took me to Lucknow Zoo and I saw wild animals for the first time and instantly fell in love with them.

“I prepared the project and it was so much appreciated by the school that that they kept it with them. After this my hobby turned into an obsession. I did post graduation in biology and am currently doing Ph.D. on tortoises. I joined an organisation working for the wildlife. Then my passion got a meaning and I became part of a team and we went around the country and rescued aquatic creatures like gharial, crocodile, turtle, dolphin and others. Simple-hearted fishermen help us in our mission. With the support and cooperation of my seniors Shailendra Singh, Suresh Pal, Himanshu and others all rescue operations have been successful.”

Second gharial caught in 10 hours

On Friday, the team from Lucknow caught the second gharial from Kaliasot Dam, barely 10 hours after rescuing the first one. As the aquatic creature wieghed 166 kg, the rescuers had to work hard to bring it ashore. It had left the area after its companion was caught. From 7 a.m. till 12 noon, the team scanned the entire area but could not locate it. After this Arunima Singh started the search with fisherman Sant Pal Singh in the boat. At 1pm the gharial was spotted and caught easily as it was sitting in shallow water. After routine checkup, it was released in Van Vihar National Park. Now there are three gharials in Van Vihar.