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They say that everyone deserves a second chance. Maheshwar Basumatary is a living example of this philosophy, as he has turned from a wildlife poacher, to a wildlife protector. Poaching is a nasty industry that cruelly claims the lives of millions upon millions of wild animals each year. But, in his homeland of India, Maheshwar Basumatary discovered that it was an unfortunate economic reality. With political unrest forcing schools to close and limiting economic opportunity, many people in his village found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Reformed pacher and ocelot


Desperate to feed their families, it wasn’t hard to view wild animals as a potential source of income. He recalls “I was married at the age of 19 and was without any means  to support my family. I fell into wrong company…of poachers; there was a  certain demand for people like me in the market at that time, someone who had grown up in that area and knew the forests like the back of his own hand. I helped these people (poachers) into the forests and out.” Eventually, his wife found out what he was doing and left him to raise the children on his own. It wasn’t too long after that Maheshwar saw the error in his ways.

Reformed poacher and cat


In 2005, he surrendered to the Forest Department and took a job helping to revive the depleted jungle, working with a group called Green Forest Conservation. Since then Maheshwar has excelled, using his knowledge of the land and poacher activity to protect the animals that he once hunted. The job isn’t as easy as observing animals either, he spends hours on end out in the field and has to endure all sorts of weather – and animal encounters – as well. Maheshwar does this important work with the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Wildlife Trust India. 

But, despite the difficulty of his work, he says, “I love my work. Instead of hurting the animals I’m  actually helping in saving them now… Not only did I save my  own life – lord knows what would have happened to me if I was still a  poacher – but I helped influence my son to also follow the right path  and he’s also now working for wildlife conservation with the same NGO I  started volunteering with all those years ago.”

It is wonderful to see that Maheshwar has made so many positive changes to his life and the life of his son, proving that second chances really do change lives.

All image source: IFAW-WTI

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4 comments on “Meet the Incredible Man Who Went From Wildlife Poacher to Protector”

Click to add comment
Birgitte Anker
1 Years Ago

Best decision ever - BRAVO..... Wish he will teach more poachers the same as he is doing and all the poachers will do the same as him.....and help teach humans especially trohy and fun/sports Hunters to do the same <3

john pasqua
1 Years Ago


Muriel Servaege
1 Years Ago


1 Years Ago

Thank goodness his wife found out and knew it was wrong. I see nothing wrong with second chances but no more than that when it comes to protecting animals. I would guess his poaching skills have dome in handy in his new and improved life and I appreciate that he is not on their side instead of killing them. I understand the need for money but to me that is not a good enough excuse/reason for poaching.


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