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Ranaram Bishnoi who saved
the Desert Patch
Ekalkhori village is about 100 kms from Jodhpur, but it takes more than five hours to get there. On the way to the village you will see many chinkaras, the black bucks, and squirrels drifting languorously on the highway.
Ranaram Bishnoi
The Bishnoi Tiger Force – a wildlife vigilante group in Jodhpur district; a menace to any poacher prowler in these parts, conducts daring animal rescues battling gun-wielding poachers in the dead of night.

There is one man among them who makes the backbreaking journey across the arid Rajasthan and save the environment. This man is Ranaram Bishnoi.

The Bishnoi community to which Ranaram belongs is the forbearer of the Chipko movement, famous for its non-violent, tree-hugging protest against tree felling. In 1730, 363 Bishnoi men, women, and children were killed by a local king’s soldiers when they protested in this manner.

With such exemplars of environmental crusades before them, the Bishnois are driven to preserve and emulate their ancestors’ legacy. They have 29 tenants as laid down to them by their Guru Jambheshwar, out of which eight pertain to protecting and respecting wildlife and environment.

Ranaram Bishnoi, septuagenarian environment crusader who takes his sobriquet of the ‘tree man’ rather seriously. Single handedly he has planted over 27,000 trees turning the whole parchy land green. The desert would have now muzzled the farmlands adjoining it and beyond. The desert dunes now lie tamed and anchored to the roots of Ranaram’s trees. The indigenous trees he has planted are neem, rohida, kankeri, khejri, fig, bougainvillea and babool. Ranaram carry the water from a nearby well in an earthen pot on his shoulders to water these saplings.
When you stand at this elevation of the dunes, overlooking the fields and the villages beyond, you will get a sense of Ranaram’s immense contribution. You also get a sense of his fortitude in planting saplings in the sand and watering them each day to breathe life into them as it were. At his age, his relentless war against the tide of the desert is indeed commendable.

He hems in all the fresh saplings with dried thorn bushes to prevent cattle or wildlife from eating them up. His loose white shirt and dhoti — the attire of an average Bishnoi — flutters in the desert wind as he moves over the tree-dotted dunes with the pride of a patriarch.

Ranaram Bishnoi believes that the plants and animals are born much before the humans came here. So they have more rights on the planet than us and if we cannot give that to them at least we can ensure we don’t destroy them in our greed. We must realize that without plants and animals we just cannot survive.

 
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