Aaliya Mir Becomes First J&K Woman To Receive Wildlife Conservation Award

Srinagar- The Jammu and Kashmir administration has felicitated Aaliya Mir, a wildlife conservationist working for India-based charity Wildlife SOS with an award for her conservation efforts in the region.

Mir, who received the award from Manoj Sinha, Lt. Governor became the first woman from J&K to be felicitated with an award for her role in wildlife conservation. She was given a cash prize of Rs 25000 along with a Momento.

Talking to Kashmir Observer, Mir said that she is thrilled to receive the award which will keep her “motivated”

“I will continue to do my job but the appreciation keeps a person motivated,” Mir said.

Mir was felicitated on the International Day of Forests event held by the Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment in Jammu on 21 March.

“Mir was felicitated with an award in recognition of her efforts spanning diverse aspects of wildlife conservation. This includes the rescue and release of wild animals, treatment of injured animals, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and managing two bear rescue centres in Kashmir,” said the Wildlife SOS  in a statement.

Aaliya Mir is the Programme Head and Education Officer at Wildlife SOS and Kashmir’s first female wildlife rescuer. Despite having rescued Asiatic black bears, Himalayan brown bears, birds, leopards and other mammals, Mir is best known for her work with snakes.

“Over the years, she has rescued snakes from the most unlikely places such as kitchens, lawns, gardens and toilets of residences, government buildings and offices, school and university premises, and from tyres and engines of vehicles, to name a few,”Wildlife SOS said.

One particular instance made headlines when the Wildlife SOS team, led by Mir, rescued a Levantine viper – a highly venomous snake – from the Chief Minister’s residence in an hour-long operation and safely released it back into the wild. “This individual was one of the heaviest vipers that we had encountered and weighed around 2 kg,” Aaliya Mir revealed.

The statement further reads that despite the stern stigma and a deep-rooted fear of snakes, Mir built credibility among local communities through continued rescue efforts.

In May 2021, Wildlife SOS launched a wildlife rescue helpline under Mir’s leadership. The NGO works closely with the J&K Wildlife Protection Department in handling rescue calls to save snakes and other wild animals.

Mir and her team also manage two bear rescue centres in Dachigam and Pahalgam, which house eight bears that include both Asiatic Black bears and Himalayan Brown bears. Here she displays her expertise in ex-situ conservation of wild animals. Additionally, Mir has participated in various revolutionary surveys including the Hangul (Kashmir Stag) census and the annual Asian Waterbird Census. She has also worked on human-wildlife conflict extensively, especially on the human-leopard conflict in the North division of Kashmir.

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO, Wildlife SOS said, “Wildlife SOS is at the forefront of women empowerment and this particular recognition is a testament to Aaliya’s leadership qualities and skills. She has played the most important role in the outreach of our conservation efforts in this region. Working on various aspects of wildlife and biodiversity conservation for nearly 15 years, she has been a role model and inspiration for all women who aspire to be conservationists in future.”

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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