The Wildlife And Nature Conservation Trust (WNCT), Ooty
Sadiq Ali’s fascination for animals began in childhood and became his life’s mission. Ali, who was born in 1966 near Chennai, belonged to a family in the leather business. As a result, he often saw taxidermists and tanners visiting his house to meet his grandfather. He also had the opportunity to interact with Irulas (a local tribe) who lived nearby.
Photo Courtesy: WNCT.
From them, he learnt to handle snakes at a very young age. Not surprisingly, he graduated as a leather technology professional, and moved to Ooty in 1991 after which he began taking more interest in conservation-related activities. In 2012, he decided to dedicate his life to the conservation and protection of wildlife and founded the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust (WNCT).
WNCT’s mission statement is, “We have not inherited the earth and her wild heritage from our forefathers, but borrowed it from our future generations. Hence it is the duty of all citizens to protect the last few remaining forests of this country.”
The Ooty-based NGO works in the Western Ghats, one of the largest forest areas in south India. With several rivers and streams originating from the Nilgiris, this is a vital watershed for south India. The region is also home to around 6,000 elephants and many other critically-endangered species of flora and fauna.
As in other parts of the country, these forests face direct and indirect threats from humans. Encroachment of forest land by the land mafia is on the rise. So is pollution caused by garbage dumped into rivers and forest land. Poaching of wildlife has severely affected the populations of many species. Sand and granite mining and other construction activities continue unabated. The forest is becoming increasingly fragmented leading to man-animal conflict. WNCT is actively addressing all of these issues.
Though WNCT is a young organisation, its founder Ali has been involved in rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife in the Nilgiri biosphere for over a decade. WNCT helps bridge the divide among stakeholders like the Forest Department, local communities and the general public. It also supports the Forest Department through capacity-building initiatives such as camps and seminars. WNCT runs a round-the-clock rescue team, which helps concerned authorities mitigate conflict scenarios. They have carried out scores of successful rescue and rehabilitation missions.
“We have an effective team of members that quickly responds to calls regarding wild animals entering human habitations or in distress. They are well trained to handle such situations and there are many instances when government authorities and local communities take help from us to resolve conflict situations,” says Ali.
WNCT believes in an inclusive working style, actively engaging with stakeholders and enforcement authorities. They have a network of informers and volunteers who watch for illegal wildlife activities. They are also actively involved in seizing wild animals in illegal possession and highlighting such cases. These animals are released into their natural habitats after requisite medical treatment.
WNCT understands that investing in conservation-awareness drives for the younger generation and local communities are vital for a secure future. They impart conservation awareness to students and local communities whenever an opportunity arises. They feel that more people should be empowered in conservation activities.
“We work extensively with colleges and educational institutions to make young minds understand the importance of protecting nature. Conservation requires a lot of passion, love, experience and resources and we would like to work with like-minded NGOs to further the cause,” says Ali.
WNCT needs a SUV which will help their rescue team reach inaccessible locations faster. Contact them if you know someone planning to sell their SUV or would like to donate one. If anyone wishes to volunteer or share information about the illegal trade or captivity of wildlife, they can email WNCT on
Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust
No. 97, 2nd Floor (Ooty Coffee House Building), Commercial Road
Ooty – 643001, Tamil Nadu, India.
Tel.: +91 96550 23288
For more information, visit: www.wnct.in
Author: Anirudh C. Nair
First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXIII No. 5, October 2013.