Situated in the Upper Gangetic Plain in India, you will find the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. Acquired for Project Tiger, a tiger conservation program established by the Government of India in 1973, this lush forest is both beautiful and maze-like. Amidst the leafy greenery of the forest are several swamps and wetlands, making Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary a treacherous place for some. Navigating the woodlands can be difficult for even the most seasoned of travelers, nevermind a young girl… With its main aim to help preserve the habitats of some of the most endangered species on the planet, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary can teach us a lot about the wildlife that lives there. And these animals can teach us a lot too, including compassion, bravery, and how to live a life that is judgment-free. However, that doesn’t mean it’s somewhere you would want a young child to be roaming around – especially not with all of the perils that come with a deep, dense forest and its wildlife.
Imagine stepping into such a lush green animal sanctuary, only to find a helpless young girl staring you in the face. What do you do first? Should you try to get close to her and assess her situation? Should you keep your distance so as not to alarm her? Should you alert the authorities? Above all, how do you make sure she’ll be safe from there on out? Now put yourself in the shoes of this young girl. Being approached by complete strangers, in the middle of Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, must have been a difficult situation for her. Would she opt to fight, flight or freeze? Or would she recognize a human connection to them that helped her feel safe and secure? It’s a jarring situation even to consider, let alone live through, but the woodcutters who found this girl did precisely that, and their course of action would determine the rest of her life.