In an attempt to reduce mortality of endangered wildlife in Thar desert, new “rescue wards” have come up in the far-flung rural areas of Jodhpur, Rajasthan. These will provide quick treatment to animals injured in road accidents, dog bites and fights. With an average of nearly 1,000 injuries a year, the wildlife in Thar desert has witnessed 60% mortality because of lack of transport to the main rescue centre at the Jodhpur zoo. This has led to the depletion of wildlife, mainly chinkaras (Indian gazelles).The Forest Department’s move to set up 17 rescue wards has come as a much-needed support to the Bishnoi community of western Rajasthan, which has been in the forefront of wildlife conservation. Bishnois risk their lives to save gazelles from poachers and transport injured animals to Jodhpur. The rescue wards were launched on Sunday, well before the onset of monsoon which causes widespread mortality among gazelles as they cannot run fast in the moist soil and fall prey to dog bites.Training for villagersShravan Singh Rathore, Jodhpur zoo’s veterinary surgeon, told The Hindu that the new facilities would help save wild animals and birds. A day-long training camp was held in Jodhpur to hone the skills of villagers volunteering as animal rescuers.Thanks to the new centres, Bishnoi volunteers expect wildlife mortality to reduce drastically. Bishnoi Tiger Force chief Ram Pal Bhawad said the community had been demanding such centres for over a decade. “We have definite plans for the conservation of the desert’s endangered wildlife,” he said.