Lions and Paper Tigers

The way poachers killed 3 lions in Gir reminds me of the days when my mom or grandmother used to pick out lice from my head. I was in school in Calcutta and lice infestation was common. But finding lice and catching them needs careful technique and some practice. Something poachers have but forest officials dont.

You take a tourist to Ranthambhore or Sariska, you wont see a tiger. But of course for some extra fee, the really determined kinds can have a dekko. How so? It seems people know where the tigers are when commerce knocks on their doors.

Only poachers see commerce in tigers, lions, rhinos and tuskers. Not the government and definitely not the rest of the public. Who goes to Ranthambhore or Corbett because they want to save the tiger? Honeymoon maybe, vacation yes, post safari booze party most definitely! Poor wildlife activists try hard to enlighten the public. The same public that doesnt hesitate to lynch a scared leopard that \’mistakenly wanders\’ into territory that was his to begin with. But then he doesnt have the voting rights. Even if his species had, we\’d make sure that their numbers are so less that they cant make any meaningful changes to the existing laws. We might even have to set up a minority commission just for them.

Minority commissions are set up for wild life. But those are there to give a patient hearing to activists really. Who cares about wild life? About trees? You think city dwellers? All they care about is that the trees in their avenue should not be cut. Not because of the shade or the oxygen or the fruits, but because it looks beautiful and increases the value of their real estate. Hell, a small shopping mall in Delhi would get more footfalls during a regular weekend than Gir receives in an entire year. You think villagers care? All they want is that elephants dont trample their crop, leopards dont carry away their cattle and that there is more land to give away as dowry. What about the government? You know, in some ways, the government is the keeper of public conscience. Yes, government is active in that area. It is busy making sure that people below 25 can vote, copulate, raise kids, gamble on stocks, but cant drink alcohol. It is making sure that kids who get raped and molested by their own relatives are not exposed to any suggestive sexuality on television. Government can only do so much. After all we are the government. Government does what we want and what we want is a facade of propriety.

And a facade is what we shall get. A few years down the line, your kids and mine, lugging \’artificial oxygen\’ cans on their backs will go on a weekend trip to the local zoo to see something called Wild Life. The only problem is that it no longer exists in the wild.

I feel like watching \’Planet of Apes\’ once again.

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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