Meet Aliya Meer, Kashmir's Wildlife Expert
Meer has completed almost 300 rescues in Kashmir
Aliya Meer (41) is hailed as Kashmir's only wildlife rescue expert, and is known in Kashmir for her work in rescuing bears, snakes, leopards, birds and more. A resident of Srinagar's Wazir Bagh area, Meer moved to Delhi for higher studies, and also volunteered with Wildlife SOS, to rescue stray and wild animals. Wildlife SOS (WSOS) is a conservation non-profit in India, established in 1995 with the objective of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress, and preserving India’s natural heritage. It is currently one of the largest Wildlife Organisations in South Asia. “I decided to continue working for animal welfare. Dealing with animals is satisfying because they are God's creation, and they must be saved,” said Meer.
Meer recalled that when she joined Wildlife SOS in 2007, there was news of a bear encounter in Kashmir, where people had tried to burn and beat the animal. “This was completely heartbreaking. While I was in Delhi, our team was monitoring this and the incident was later highlighted in the media,” she said. That incident was the turning point for Meer, “being from Kashmir I thought there was a need to work on Animal conservation here so such things do not happen again."
After a year with Wildlife SOS, she started working as a Project Manager, “it is impossible to work on animal conservation without people’s support, it becomes vital to gather together and work on animal conservation," Meer says. “The co-founders and I created a project called Mitigation of Human Wildlife Conflict (MHWC),” she said, adding that they have two bear rehabilitation camps in Kashmir, one is in the Dachigam National Park and the other in Pahalgam, a popular tourist destination.
"I've been the project leader for Jammu and Kashmir at MHWC, my team and I work on animal rescue and rehabilitation, we also hold workshops and do outreach programmes in schools and colleges,” said Meer.
Recently a snake became entangled in a scooty in Srinagar City, and was subsequently rescued by Meer in a spectacular manner. A video of the rescue went viral on social media. Meer is now winning accolades for her skill and bravery. “I feel honoured, my work is tough, but people’s support inspires me," she said. In 2019 Meer had rescued a snake from the home of Omar Abdullah former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, and it was later released in Dachigam.
Meer has completed almost 300 rescues in Kashmir, mostly of snakes and birds. “We have rescued some exotic birds such as Egyptian vultures and even a golden eagle,” she recalled. Meer has a message for humans too, “respect and care for animals, they have the right to live, and don't take the situation into your own hands when dealing with an animal." Meer has a tip for victims of snake bites, “if you are bitten by a snake, you must go to the hospital as soon as possible.” “All my rescues are special to me, because I have been able to save God’s creation. This gives me satisfaction and keeps me going"