Published: 24th July 2019
Why no disease can keep Santosh Edupuganti away from Papi Hills in Andhra Pradesh
Santosh is currently recovering from a terrible bout of illness. But he is still determined to continue in the line of wildlife conservation, no matter what
Growing up next to the mangroves in Madapalli in Andhra Pradesh, Santosh Edupuganti fell in love with them. And this love wasn't just based on admiration, he wanted others to realise its importance as well. He engaged schools and the villages in the vicinity of these mangroves through sessions which highlighted its importance. "I told them how their livelihood is dependent on the mangroves and if they don't take care of mangroves, how will it take care of them?," says the 21-year-old, who went on to work with the US-based initiative, Fishing Cat Conservancy. He worked with them for one and a half years, helping them keep an eye on fishing cats and then went on to work with Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society (HyTiCoS) just last year.
Being in the field of wildlife conservation is a dream come true for Santosh. "To walk on the path which a tiger walked on just two minutes back is delightful," he describes
Apart from the tiger census, Santosh was posted in the Papikonda National Park, but currently, he is recovering from jaundice and before which, he was suffering from a terrible bout of cerebral malaria. "During field visits, we have to walk a lot and there is only so much water one can carry. I drank from a water body in the forest. I ended up in the ICU for four days," says the Visakhapatnam-based youngster. This tough time has not only affected him financially, but has also taken a psychological toll on him, plus it has put his parents on the edge too. He needs some time, he says grimly, before returning to the field again. "It was pure passion that kept me going and I do have a lot of field experience. So, maybe I will study in the same field abroad and eventually, come back here," muses Santosh, who finished his BTech from Andhra University.
First off, I never imagined that there could be this much wildlife in Andhra Pradesh
Santosh Edupuganti, Wildlife enthusiast | (Pic: Santosh Edupugant)
Scrolling through Santosh’s Instagram page, we truly realise how passionate he is. One post that stays with us, and what we also ask him about, is the one where he is posing with discarded single-use plastic bags right in the middle of the forest. "Roads pass right through the forests and are lined with plastic. Viewpoints and tourists spots are being built at places which need to be left alone. Humans leave discarded plastic all around, animals like monkeys and others eat it and meet their death," says Santosh, who intends to see more accountability in the wildlife department. "No one is aware in our state about our own wildlife. We need to spread awareness, especially among the youngsters through activities like bird watching," suggests the youngster.
On a high note
Some of Santosh's most memorable moments
- Gaur or the Indian bison is one of Santosh's favourite animals and a creature who actually inspired him to take up this cause. One early morning, when he was riding his bike, he saw the animal crossing the road. Santosh stopped and stared and the animal stared right back for some time and then walked away
- Spotting a tiger in Amrabad Tiger Reserve was a highlight for Santosh. He was travelling with friends in a jeep. When Santosh spotted it, he requested the driver to reverse and found himself about 60 meters away from the tiger. Needless to say, he took a lot of pictures
Some of his clicks:
For more on him, check out instagram.com/santosh_edupuganti7