You might come across Asrar Khan Usmani scaling walls, trees and every now and then in a well. And, it's all for animals. This young 22-year-old is a self-made animal rescuer who has been saving lives around Bengaluru, which has earned him the title of 'Spider-Man of Bommanahalli'.
AK Usmani is a certified animal healer working at Cessna Lifeline Veterinary Hospital in Domlur, Bengaluru. The youngster has been rescuing animals for the past 6 years.
An animal rescuer and a martial artist
For the past 6 years, AK Usmani has been making some tough rescues in Bengaluru, of cats, dogs monkeys, birds including wildlife species, and others who are injured or stuck. In a largely undermined and challenging job, he still says that a smile is all he needs to keep going. Usmani heals animals who have spine compression or broken spines and soft tissue injuries.
Videos of AK Usmani's rescues went up online, blowing away netizens and all those who know him. In the videos, he has rescued animals from precarious heights and deep wells. The martial artist spoke candidly to IBTimes, "I started climbing seeing few videos on YouTube channels, they use safety measures, but, I am not. Watching those kinds of videos I can tell you, watching how they climb and come down, that's how I started."
Talking about how he developed a love for animals when he was in the 10th standard he says, "When a dog met with an accident. So, I called many people and no one responded to me. Like, 'we'll come, we'll come, we'll help'. That time there was no WhatsApp, I was not using phone. So this is the thing. Till the end, the dog died without getting help. So that was a very bad experience. I was thinking that, why can't I do that? Why should I ask for help from other people? Why can't I start doing this so I help many people, many animals so I can educate more people to do what I'm doing."
He has been rescuing animals for the past 6 years and the challenge he says confidently, "The first challenge is handling people around us." Talking about it, he tells us that it's the panic that sets in people's minds in that situation that's hard to handle.
"When they see some kind of accident they get panicked. They get panicked, they don't know what they're doing," he says. When it comes to him he tries to stay calm even as the caller panics, "If they are reacting, we don't react, we respond."
He works with two friends now after being solo during his school days, one of them drives and the other fills in for him and shoots his photos and videos as well. Usmani says he gets calls from all across the city, including highway accidents. The rescuer tells us, there are few working towards this end in the city and he says that there's coordination required in rescues. Giving an example he revealed that when an animal dies on the road, people don't pick up the animal and give it a proper burial. Usmani says, "It's everyone's responsibility to care for animals."
The 22-year-old says that often in their panic when people try to help they end up stressing out the already troubled animal more and then the rescues are hard for him. As someone who communicates with animals and is a trained animal reader Usmani says, "When I get a call I tell them, please don't do anything for the animal. Let him stay there, we're coming, I am coming. Not to even give them water also, I am coming. They say 'No sir, it will die!' I say no, nothing, just stand and watch what he's doing there. Till I reach there."
He says if someone wants to help the animal they need to plan it, "If a dog is stuck, just think how to do that, just plan it. Plan how can you help the animal. If there's no plan you can't do anything. Just plan, okay where, I want to remove this, I need some oil, I need some blades, I need the animal to be calm, someone has to speak to the animal. There are few things to be planned."
Taking about his process the 22-year-old says, "When I get a call, while driving only I make a plan myself. I just need a video. I say, Sir, ma'am please share a short video, so I can see how I can help you there. It's not after reaching the spot that I start planning. I take a video and plan it."
AK Usmani says that he feels fear when someone makes the animal flustered and scared, and whether or not he'll be able to communicate with it. Yet, the youngster has not had a failure when it comes to rescues. He says, "I understand how they (animals) are feeling, where I can hold, where they are comfortable. How should I go and approach them? It's not like going to the spot and just pick the animal. No. Go to the spot, see, sit with the animal, go to his level, talk to him, pet him and then do your thing."
Usmani is a pet owner himself, with two cats and a dog who has passed away, he also has a pigeon who can't fly due to broken wings. He spoke about his blind cat, Blu fondly, who he adopted after her eyes were popped out and treatment couldn't be meted out to her when she was 7 months old.
Talking about the payoff he says, "Few people really come forward to help me that you are really doing a good job man, we'll support you, sometimes. Something or the other it may be financial, food or anything." He says sometimes they ask and say whether can contribute or not, and often only call to report a case. All he asks is for a little encouragement.
Speaking about the title he's earned 'Spider-Man Bommanahalli' he says that it's just by climbing buildings and trees without hesitance that shocked people. Seeing him do what he does so well, they started to call him that. He says, "I land very easily, very gently. I just jump, I used to watch cat videos of how they jump how they land from top." He then began watching videos of monkeys climbing as well, "I haven't learnt anything from the humans more than animals."
AK Usmani has a larger dream which is to open an animal sanctuary, "All kinds of animals will be there in my place. If no shelter agrees I want to take that animal. I want to invite school children to come to my shelter, visit and educate them on how to handle the animal, whom to approach when they meet with an accident when they're in pain when they're unhealthy. I want to bring this to every student in schools and colleges."
Living with his parents he says that it took him time to convince his father to let him pursue the field, previously a prospective law student. After all his effort and the praise for his work, now his father who used to scold him feeds 200 dogs as well. When most youth his age are spending time partying or out with friends, he spends his time in the company of animals and dreaming larger dreams.