Though global warming and deforestation have been two things that the entire human civilization is aware of, there seems to be no widespread movements to tackle them. Though afforestaion and environmental protection has been on the top of our to-do list, it sadly is still in a to-do phase and we really do not see any major breakthroughs. But there are a few people on this planet who have taken these causes to their heart and spent a lifetime working for it.
Â Jadav Payeng- The forest man
Meet Jadav Molai Payeng, a Mishing tribe descendent from Assam, who grew a whole forest spreading close to 1350 acres. The Molai forest, named after its creator is a dense forest that now houses hundreds of elephants, monkeys, rabbits and even a handful of tigers. Just 35 years ago, Jadav saw a bunch of dead snakes on a sandbar off the Brahmaputra River. Being a forest worker then, Jadav immediately realized the cause of death of these snakes was lack of shelter and trees. Perhaps Jadav saw the future of humanity in the death of those snakes.
With no support financially or influentially, Jadav began his project rather quietly on the sandbar. Jadav would work as a part of his forest service career from dawn till dusk, and return home only to carry out his private project. The fruit of his toil can now be seen in the form of the Molai forest, but this hasnâ€™t made Jadav stop. He has now chosen another spot where he plans to grow yet another forest, but this time with the willing help of a lot of people.
With just handful of seeds, Jadav stated his mission in 1979. He had around 20 bamboo seeds then and planted them. Later on he started collecting more seeds and planted them all along the sandbar. By then Jadav had found the pleasure of tending to trees and this slowly turned out to be an obsession. With his own effort and various agents of pollination like birds and the Brahmaputra River itself, Jadavâ€™s forest slowly started spreading. After 35 years, the Molai forest now has a collection of Valcol, Arjun, Ejar, Goldmohur, Koroi, Moj and Himolu trees. Bamboo, his first ever trees, covers an area of over 300 hectares of the forest.
Just like a moth to a flame, wildlife started establishing camp in Jadavâ€™s forest. The Molai forest now boasts of housing around 5 Bengal tigers, one of the endangered species in the world. The Molai forest also is home to a herd of around 115 elephants which visit the forest and stay for close to six months every year. Jadav says that the elephants have successfully given birth to 10 calves and the tigers have given birth to two cubs over the past five years.
Jadav has his own herd of cattle that he milks every morning. It is the income that he gets from selling this milk that sustains his family. Jadavâ€™s wife Binita, also shares his enthusiasm for afforestation and joins him in planting trees after sending their three kids to school. Jadav, whose education stopped after tenth grade, strongly believes that if the science classes of kids stressed more on afforestation, then the world would have a fighting chance.
Though Jadavâ€™s project was aimed for the welfare of mankind and wildlife, there have been instances when trouble had brewed. The tigers in his forest had killed close to a hundred of his cattle and their menace was spreading to nearby villages. Though villagers blamed Jadav initially for this, they realized that none of it would have happened if they hadnâ€™t encroached in the tigersâ€™ territory. Jadavâ€™s forest is now protected by the forest authority of India. This even helped Jadav nab a gang of poachers who had come to hunt the rhinos and elephants that inhabit his forest a few years ago.