Jadav Payeng- the forest man
Celebrate the love story of a man with a forest. What? Can’t it be? Why not? Jadav Payeng has created an eternal love story with forest and wildlife. His undying love for animals has inspired billions of souls across the world. A regular school boy Jadav Payeng when returned back to his village in 1978 was shocked to see hundreds to snakes twisted, curved and lifeless at the Shore of Brahmaputra River. Heartbroken by the sight he asked the villagers for a reason and got to know that the animals and reptiles are dying because of deforestation, in short because of no shelter for them. He was advised to plant trees in the area to protect wildlife. For where there are trees, there are birds, and where there are birds, there will be birds’ eggs and fledglings – food for snakes and where there is forest, there is wildlife. Along with the native wisdom, the boy was offered 50 seeds and 25 bamboo plants by the villagers.
So the young child began his journey of planting trees. He planted several bamboo trees throughout the shore and many other vegetation never knowing the fact that one day it will turn out to be a complete forest. Today, around 40 years later, he has reaped a forest full of reptiles and of course wild life. At the age of cutting down trees and setting up big industries, the Brahmaputra rivers flows through a heavy forest all because of one man army- Jadav Payeng.
“I never thought that my small initiative would make such a difference one day,” he says.
The forest, called Molai forest named after him, is located near Kokilamukh of Jorhat, Assam and encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres/550 hectares. The forest, now houses Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, and over 100 deer and rabbits. Molai forest is also home to monkeys and several varieties of birds, including a large number of vultures. There are varieties of vegetation as well like Valcol, Arjun, Ejar, Gulmohor and Bamboo. Herds of elephants also regularly passes through the forest. He was first recognized in 2008 when few forest officers went in, to find herd of 116 elephants. They were shocked to see such a dense forest and since then it is regularly visited by the officials. Jadav is an environmental activist and forestry worker. Even today, much to our surprise he plants one seed daily.
Jadav Payeng was honoured at a public function arranged by the School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University on 22 April 2012 for his achievement. In 2015, he was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India by the former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. He was named as “The Forest Man” of India. The man brought back the idea of reforestation to life. Jadav is a real life example of humanity which we all certainly lack. People does everything to be remembered but this man build an entire forest which is beyond yours or mine imagination. He gave life to hundreds of species and provided shelter to the endangered tigers. In the world full of animal lovers, Jadav is indeed an inspiration.