Asrar Khan Usmani, 22, has scaled walls, climbed into drainage pipes and gone into collapsed buildings – all to save the lives of animals in Bangalore, India. A certified animal healer and a surgeon’s assistant at the Cessna Lifeline Veterinary Hospital, Usmani is known around the neighbourhood and online as “Spiderman” for his impressive climbing feats. On September 2, videos of some of Usmani’s daring rescues went viral online. 

He has rescued cats, dogs, birds, monkeys, and more, but what has made Usmani famous is courageously climbing up buildings to save animals trapped in difficult places. Usmani said that people prefer to call him rather than the fire fighters because he knows how to communicate with animals and keep them calm, avoiding injuries. 

In a video posted on Twitter September 2, Usmani climbs up a building to save a cat that was stuck on a ledge. 

In a video posted to Twitter September 2, Usmani climbs on ledges between two buildings to save a cat that was stuck. 

‘When I go up, I don’t think about how to come down’

He learned how to climb by watching mountain-climbers on Youtube and he says he observes animals like cats and monkeys to learn the best way to scale trees and buildings. While Usmani’s past martial arts training may also play a role in his ability to climb up sheer heights, he says that fearlessness and patience are really what make it possible:
 
A few places, the fire brigade can’t approach. The fire brigade also should understand how to handle the animal and be available at all times. I see something dangerous, I like to do that. I know I’m risking my life and I might get very badly injured but I have to be confident that I can do it. When I go up, I don’t think about how to come down. A few of the cases, I just climbed up, I saved the cat, and then I didn’t know how to come down. Then I have to sit and think about how to come down, and I do it easily. First, the animal should be saved and should not be injured because of me.Then I come down.

The fire brigade also does not know how to communicate with the animal. If something goes wrong, I might be injured and the animal might be injured. So you need to understand how to communicate. When I climb up, I stop. I tell the cat: ‘I can help you. Will you please cooperate with me so we can come back home?’ Then I can just hold them and they won’t do anything.


 

‘From day one, a new life started by saving a life’

Usmani said his story began in 2013 when he saw an injured dog. After calling many organisations and people for help, the dog remained in the same place for hours. He decided from then on to take matters into his own hands and save animals on his own.

Since that day, Usmani and his school friends – who help drive him around and film his rescues – have been the go-to animal rescuers in their neighbourhood. He shared his phone number with friends and friends of friends, letting them know to call if they saw an injured or trapped animal. He brought the animals he saved to vets and watched how they treated the animals in order to learn how to provide first aid to dogs, cats, birds and more. He said this is how he learned basic techniques such as checking an animal’s heart rate, eyes and tongue to recognise problems. His years of experience saving animals on the streets allowed him to find a job in a veterinary hospital. 

Still, he receives up to 15-20 calls a day asking him to help save trapped or injured animals and has saved more than 200 so far, including buffaloes, monkeys, hawks, peacocks, and more. Usmani never asks for payment for his rescue missions, rather, he requests that people who are able to make a donation so that he can continue saving animals on the streets of Bangalore. 

Usmani ventures down a dry well to save an animal. He says this experience was the scariest thing he has done to save an animal – there could have been a dangerous snake in the well. Video posted on Twitter September 2. 

In a video shared with the FRANCE24 Observers by Usmani, he is seen rescuing a baby monkey with an injury to its hand from electrocution. Usmani took the animal to a wildlife sanctuary for treatment. 

Usmani (in the yellow vest) working with firefighters to save puppies who were caught in a drain after a heavy night of rain. Video posted to Twitter August 28.

‘The building might go down, just save them’

Usmani also works with firefighters and rescue teams to save animals in danger. As a volunteer with Bangalore’s Quick Response Team, he responds to emergencies like building collapses and focuses on saving animals. 
 
If there is a building collapse or a fire, we ask the neighbours if there are animals inside. There was a building collapse once [Editor’s note: A building in Bangalore’s JP Nagar neighbourhood partially collapsed on September 8, 2019], it had just fallen and the chickens and hens were stuck inside. I thought that if I went inside, the building might collapse completely. But there was a dog in there, a goat in there. I thought if we don’t approach slowly and gently, we might lose all the lives. We went inside just five minutes, to bring out all the animals from the store. I was panicking. I was thinking, ‘The building might go down, just save them.’

What makes saving animals worth risking his life? Usmani said his empathy for animals makes it possible.
 
I can feel their emotions completely. I can see in their eyes that they’re in some danger, or in a problem. I can feel that I did something good today, saved a life. Especially an animal, who is not speaking, who is asking for help but no one is helping. Every day I feel proud of myself that I did something good today, but I can do better tomorrow.



Article written by Pariesa Young