BELAGAVI: Be it wild or domestic, poisonous or non-poisonous, one man, popularly known as the ‘the man on round-the-clock rescue missions’ is there whenever you need him. Ayub Khan, a noted industrialist from Gokak, has been rescuing animals such as different types of snakes, crocodiles, birds, cows and even humans. Khan has also become a guru of sorts to hundreds of youths across the country, whom he trains in handling different situations, and has also formed a team that helps him on his missions.
Speaking to The New Sunday Express, Khan recalls that he was fascinated by nature since he was a teenager, which was when he decided to help all creatures big and small. “It all started when I spotted a non-poisonous snake trapped in my farmhouse and rescued it. I did not know if it was poisonous or not, but I wanted to save it. This was appreciated by several people, which encouraged me to be what I am today,” he says.
Khan has been frequenting the forests of Gokak for several years now, and claims he knows every inch of the land. He started a non-government organisation called Explore the Outdoors, which serves as an academy for adventure sports and life skills, in 2000. Through the NGO, he formed a 25-member team by training the members in how to tackle emergencies. Apart from this, there are 80 to 90 members who help Khan whenever required.
In recent cases, Khan and his team rescued a crocodile, a python and also recovered the body of a woman. “Every rescue operation has new challenges, teaching me new things. I consider nothing to be impossible,” he says.Talking about the woman’s body that he recovered from the falls, Khan said that he got a call from the taluk administration, asking for his help in removing the dead body. Since 36 hours had already passed, there was no time for the authorities to avail the help of the Army.
“I knew it was a tough mission as the body must have already started decomposing. Climbing about 160 to 170 feet down the waterfall while carrying all the equipment was a challenging task. But we didn’t give it a thought, and my teammate and I climbed down. To our surprise, the body was not at all decomposed, as it was lying in freezing water.”
Recalling another incident, Khan says that two oxen had accidentally fallen into a dry well, and one had broken its horn. Another time, Khan was called in to rescue a porcupine that was injured in a stray dog attack. “My team and I managed to catch it, cage it, give it medication and in a few days, we took it deep into the jungle and released it,” said Khan, who hails from a family of industrialists.
Tejasa Kalghatgi, an entrepreneur, biker and member of Explore the Outdoors, says Khan’s students respect him immensely. “In Khan’s eyes, a person who is doing something with a pure heart for a noble cause, will find nothing impossible to do,” she says. Khan has also rescued several birds, including eagles, owls and other native species, which he found either injured or trapped. All the injured animals, especially the birds, are treated by one of his friends - Dr Dinesh Kaushik - a Homeopathy doctor. Though he is not a veterinary doctor, the homeopathic treatment on injured animals has been successful.
Shivaraj Hullolli, another NGO member, told TNSE that he has been a member of the rescue team for several years. “What started as just a hobby turned into passion. However, rescuing animals is easier said than done. Thanks to sir (Khan), I have become a professional now,” he says.
Awareness building too
Apart from rescue operations and training the youth, Khan also creates awareness on nature and wildlife conservation. He conducts sessions in schools, along with camps for government schoolchildren. Kids from schools across the country visit his camp near Gokak Falls for training. Recently, schoolchildren from Chennai and Bengaluru visited his camp.