Ekalkhori, a village about 100 kms from Jodhpur now boasts of its rich flora, all thanks to the effort of this one strong man named Ranaram Bishnoi. Bishnoi, in his mid-70s, takes his sobriquet of the ‘tree man’ rather seriously.
This septuagenarian environment crusader has planted a staggering 27,000 trees in a desert swathe turning it green. He has single-handed stopped the march of the desert, which left to itself would have muzzled the farmlands adjoining it and beyond. The indigenous trees he has planted are neem, rohida, kankeri, khejri, fig, bougainvillea and babool. Ranaram has been planting these trees for years, drawing water from a nearby well and carrying it in an earthen pot on his shoulders to water the saplings.
The Bishnoi community to which Ranaram belongs is the forbearer of the Chipko movement, famous for its non-violent, tree-hugging protest against tree felling. He hems in all the fresh saplings with dried thorn bushes to prevent cattle or wildlife from eating them up. But it is men, he says, who are the biggest danger to the trees. “There is no end to our greed, but we must realize that without these plants and animals we just cannot survive”