Home » Colonel Dr. Navaz Sharif: A Lifelong Commitment to Wildlife and Community Service

Colonel Dr. Navaz Sharif: A Lifelong Commitment to Wildlife and Community Service

by In-house Editor

1. Can you tell us about your extensive experience serving in the Indian Army, particularly in combat operations and anti-terrorist actions in regions like Jammu & Kashmir and the Northeastern states?

Navaz Shariff: “I have had the good fortune of serving the country with 33 years of decorated service in the Indian Army. I was actively involved in various counter insurgency & terrorism operations all over the country and abroad including Operation Pawan of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka.Other combat mission’s including militant tracking using K-9 tracker dogs in counter-terrorist operations in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Manipur and Mizoram. These operations resulted in the apprehension of numerous terrorists along with confiscation of huge amounts of arms and ammunitions used by the terrorists in subversive activities.”

2. What motivated you to conduct humanitarian veterinary aid camps in conflict-ridden areas like Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh?

NS: “To answer this question, an understanding of the context of the abovementioned region is essential. Majority of the civilian population in Jammu & Kashmir and the North-Eastern states at the time are living below the poverty line. For a lot of them, animal husbandry was the only means to make a living. To assist the population that is dependent on animal husbandry, I was involved in various humanitarian and veterinary aid camps that assisted with deworming and vaccination of the animals along with any surgical interventions when necessary.

I trained the unemployed youth in animal husbandry, particularly in Sheep Rearing & Pig rearing to rehabilitate them and prevent them from leading a life of alcoholism and narcotic addictions. I also facilitated the process of helping them acquire soft loans from the State Bank of India to kickstart their farming and animal rearing farms. “

3. In your current role at People for Animals Wildlife Rescue, Conservation & Hospital in Bangalore, what are some of the key challenges you face in wildlife rescue and conservation efforts?

NS: “Being a non-profit organization dealing with high-risk situations on the daily, we constantly encounter wide variety of challenges. These include resource crunch, depleting forest lands / green covers, wildlife trafficking, increasing global temperatures and a severe lack of public awareness. Not all these issues are under our control, but we pride ourselves in working through struggles and making the most of every situation. Our work speaks for itself and over the years, it has gathered well-wishers who support us unconditionally. “

4. Achievements and contributions to PFA:

NS: “In the multifaceted role of both the Chief Veterinarian and General Manager of PfA Bengaluru, the first order of business was to streamline all the processes of the organization. Some of the notable improvements include a mobility boost to the 24×7 rescue operations in the form of more two and four wheeled ambulances which greatly improved our response times. When the inflow of injured animals was streamlined, we worked towards improving the quality of veterinary care by introducing an advance physio laser in combination with traditional acupuncture physiotherapy to boost the recovery period of injured wildlife under our care. To cite the effectiveness of the same, it reduced the recovery period of snakes with spinal injuries by 25-30%.

Establishment of a feather bank within the premises of PfA Bengaluru was another notable achievement. This enabled us to perform “imping” (feather implantation) on birds that have lost feathers due to injuries sustained to the wings. This method not only provides a higher chance of recovery but also a fast one. This had a significant positive impact on the success rate of our bird rescues and treatment.

Our latest successful venture was Operation Quench Thirst. My vision for this operation is to assist the wildlife consisting of spotted deers,wild boars,kites and peacocks of Turahalli Forest Reserve and B M Kaval Forest in combating the heat and prevent fatalities due to dehydration and animal-human interactions. With temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius in parts of Bengaluru, PfA has delivered over 75,000 litres of water via water tankers into the forest to replenish natural watering holes as well as strategically placed concrete water rings. Since the inception of the second phase in March of 2024, reports of wild animal sightings outside the forests have seen a significant decline. “

5. How do you envision the future of wildlife conservation in Urban settings within India, considering the current growing urban infrastructure, environmental challenges and conservation efforts?

NS: “Time is of the essence when it comes to urban wildlife rescue and most of our efforts go into minimizing the response time. The vision of PfA Wildlife Rescue & Conservation Centre, in this light, is to expand our operations to reach more parts of the city to provide timely aid to all the voiceless creatures in need.

Despite our best efforts, we are but one organization. True wildlife conservation starts with public awareness. The day Manja ceases to be in use, the day urban construction work stops happening unplanned, the day our public becomes aware of the pest controllers and pollinators who live amidst us, that is the future that we are working towards through our wildlife conservation efforts.”

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