Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thanks to the Dead Black-buck!

“Every creature was designed to serve a purpose. Learn from animals for they are there to teach you the way of life. There is a wealth of knowledge that is openly accessible in nature. Our ancestors knew this and embraced the natural cures found in the bosoms of the earth. Their classroom was nature. They studied the lessons to be learned from animals. Much of human behavior can be explained by watching the wild beasts around us. They are constantly teaching us things about ourselves and the way of the universe, but most people are too blind to watch and listen.”  Suzy Kassem.

Suzy Kassem is an American writer, poet, philosopher, and multi-faceted artist of Egyptian origin. The granddaughter of a well-known sage in 19th century Cairo, mysticism and wisdom run through her blood just as the water of the Nile flows through her veins. Her above words from Rise Up & Salute the Sun tells us how every philosopher is connected with the nature & what better form than wild life can be there of nature! Unfortunate what Suzy learnt from wild life very few our countrymen learnt it even after being blessed in millions of hectors of forest & thousands of species of wild life animals in it! Why I remembered her quote about wild animals is recent Salman Khan blackbuck hunting trial; no, I am not in support or in oppose of Sallubhai as a person, indeed I am fan of his on screen presence but if he is guilty (that’s court to decide) then sorry, as a human being I won’t be respecting him anymore. Though this sharing isn’t about Salman’s case as enough has been written on every media about it, rather thanks to him that because of Sallubhai most of our fellow countrymen came to know that there is punishment of five years of imprisonment for killing a blackbuck i.e. a deer!

Unlike a human getting killed (read murdered) forest killings are very different case for trials; as to prove the crime is a tedious matter, getting witness is main problem. Because most of these wild life crimes happens away from human interference (not that it makes any difference looking at crimes happening in day light & still going undetected) & unfortunately neither the one which gets hurt or killed nor fellow animals can testify against the men who has made harm to them. So all forest dept (if at all it does) can do is relay on circumstantial evidence & if lucky can get actually some human witness who has enough courage to testify in court & needless to say not just courage to stand against the poachers or hunters who if can kill once are ready to kill again as well the witness should be able to refuse the ransom money offered in most cases. And on top of it the Hon Court should believe in the noble intentions of such eye witness against the crime then a verdict is possible. And all this thing should happen in time or else the Sallubhai case took twenty years to reach at verdict & that too in lower court, now there will be High Court & Supreme  Court, sure bhai will happily by then retired. I repeat I am referring Salman’s name just as a case study for the most neglected aspect of environment conservation that is poaching or let’s say wild life killing by human, knowingly or unknowingly & no personal grudge (rather it is, because by me any wild animal killer is as bad human being as murderer but that’s different aspect). On one hand all govt’s in the country, Central as well State are busy in promoting wild life conservation via appointing celebrities as brand ambassadors & spend millions in media with most popular tag line “Save Tiger” but like we have full-fledged police dept for law enforcement of human beings, the govt does nothing for protecting wild life or wild animals.

For e.g. refer the life of humans & the number of govt departments we have to make our life better, right from revenue to urban development to irrigation to water to roads to railways & what not we have millions of govt servants working for (or supposed to be working for, is right term) we the humans. And look at the wild life (including trees), all they has is just one forest dept which is supposed to conserve the existing wild life by protecting it from all sorts of human encroachments & poachers & hunters (which included celebrities as well figures in power) along with they are supposed to create more space for this wild life. And all of above things the forest dept is supposed to do single handedly with few IFS officers as well least of the staff & literally no infrastructure. If this is not enough then the govt’s for humans plans roads & railways right from the forests so the forest dept has to protect the animals from getting killed by the vehicles on these road/railways. Then there are villages which gets displaced by the reserved forests as well there are villages which are on the fringe of forests, so the forest dept has to balance the man animal conflict also, result of which is mostly death of wild animals! And yes on top of it this very same forest dept has to take care of tourists also which numbers are ever increasing per year as many thinks going in to forests & clicking snaps is what makes them a wild lifer!

Well if you are thinking I am being over sympathizing towards forest dept then read this; in year 2017 nearly 431 leopards got dead in the entire country, out of which 159 got killed by poachers or died under speeding vehicles or killed by villagers means humans were the cause of their death. In this year on in Maharashtra State 21 leopards got dead out of which only 7 numbers has dies natural death.  In last decade nearly 482 wild elephants die due to electrocution, a major cause of death of wild animals by villagers using electric supply fence (mostly illegal). It’s not just elephants there are birds like flamingos, lions, tigers , sloth bears, dears & many smaller animals died every year (rather day) all over the country due to get electrocuted, again by human govt supplied electricity! If this is not enough then in last year nearly over 50 numbers of tigers (our wild life’s brand ambassador) also has been died due to humans & yes few of them has died due to electric fences as well under railways as speeding vehicles on highways which cuts through their homes i.e. forests. And this is just about big animals as well recorded deaths, I think the numbers must be in thousands if we count deaths of night creatures like jackals, fox, wolfs, civets & yes snakes (I doubt anybody even bothers about snakes dyeing due to humans) getting killed due to we, the humans! And now on this background tell me after reading all the hohallaha about Sallubhai killing one blackbuck & getting convicted for five years, all that publicity was not for the death of one blackbuck but for our loved Sallubhai!

Need is not just blaming forest dept for ever bad thing happening to wild life but reformation of our entire approach towards wild life conservation. Strengthen the so called forest dept just the way we have done with our demands related to human life. This doesn't mean stop development, this means accommodate wild life also in our definition of the development & not just for some advertising but on ground level. I think first & foremost need is formation of wild life police force at Central as well State level. Here at city level even for starting a restaurant one is asked for local police force’s NOC, same should be happened with this wild life police force for anything related towards forests. As well give this wild life force man power as well law power to curb the wild life related crimes as imagine a case going on for twenty years at lower court lever for killing a black buck, so when we will be going to punish the guilty faces responsible for above mentioned thousands of wild life death which are murders in their own way actually! At the same time there has to be a planning authority which will supersede other local planning authorities especially for issues like reviving wild life corridors connecting forests. As by proper supervision & conservation we can protect as well increase the numbers of wild life animals but then we will need more forest space to accommodate these animals which is not happening. Same is scene for another major killer of wild life i.e. pollution; we pollute rivers as well air by every possible mean & present forest dept has no authority or control to stop this killer. And all what we have is some Pollution Control Board, who is busy is giving some figures of chemical contents but turns a blind eye on thousands of fish getting dead by whatever we are letting in our rivers & this is just tip of iceberg named pollution! So we need a squad especially to locate the pollution caused deaths of wild life & curb them by punishing the culprits & fast! To achieve this like we have TADA courts for terrorists, there has to be wild life courts at district level as well State & Central level for giving punishments in time to the wild life criminals & yes in all of above establishments there should be special trained man-power about wild life conservation along with knowledge of law & enforcement & urban planning.  

Thanks actually to the blackbuck who gave its life to a gun shot fired at him just for fun but today at least whole country is talking about wild life killing crime & as there is a celebrity involved, so the matter is taken by media to head lines. But everyday somewhere some wild animal is getting murdered (yes murder is proper term) by us & its death gets unnoticed & never comes to trial for getting justice! I think it’s very very high time we need to rethink about our entire forest dept rather wild life policy (read attitude). We keep worrying for our oil reserves thinking what will happen if all the oil in the worlds dries up, it will be nightmare, isn’t it? Just imagine if all the wild life gets died in our country (the day isn’t very long with our human govt’s attitude towards the wild life), we can at least import oil from other countries or we have alternate sources of renewable energy but from where we will get import trees, tigers, elephants & flamingos; have we thought of that? Well, many will say who needs Tigers, Elephants & Flamingos around for living in first place? We have malls, factories, 4 G connectivity, Metro, Industries & jobs created by them, so does it matters if we don’t have few tigers, elephants & flamingos? I don’t mind this as we definitely are fool enough to ask such question & my only answer is a life without wild life & forests around will be worse than death which coming time only will tell; till that time, all I will do is, recite Jesus Christ’s words, ”Forgive them Oh Lord, they just don't know what they are doing”!

Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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