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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

in the world of animals

The Centenary celebrations are on in the Kaziranga Park. Inaugurated on the 13th February by the Chief Minister of Assam, it had celebrities like Lord Ravensdale, the grandson of Lord Curzon, the first Viceroy of India and Maharani Gayatri Devi apart from the author Mark Shand. A group of 50 elephants took out a colorful procession to mark the beginning of the festivities. Kaziranga is famous for its one-horned rhino population – it is reported that out of 2400 such animals, nearly 1600 can be found here.

Preserving wild life is an area that is often discussed and debated upon at dinner tables and over cocktails but is seldom practiced seriously. We are fond of showing off our dressed up puppies and cuddling those lovely poodles, we ring up the SPCA to complain of our neighbors not taking proper care of their kittens and caging birds for pleasure. But, do we know that a type of blood sucking fly is putting the country’s tiger population at a great risk? The alarm bells have been sounded by the authorities – in order to contain this evil, it is necessary to ensure that domestic animals do not stray into the territory of wild animals. How that can be achieved when the green belt is slowly diminishing is anybody’s guess.

Similarly astonishing is the fact that a WWF team has concluded that there is not a single tiger left in the Sariska Tiger reserve in Ranthambore, Rajasthan. Two years ago, a census indicated the presence of 25 tigers. Last year, it was 16 – this year the count is NIL. Authorities are trying to establish the reasons, when it is common knowledge that they have been poached upon by unscrupulous elements with the connivance of those who are responsible for the safeguard of such treasures. In this connection, one more news item about a petty thief killing and skinning a tiger in the Zoo garden of Hyderabad (four years back) and finally transporting the tiger skin to Mumbai for disposal reveals the sordid state of affairs of our resolve to protect wildlife. Those who cry themselves hoarse demanding justice should know where the fault lies. The guards should be reimbursed according to the value of the goods being guarded – their loyalties should not waver for the greed of additional remunerations. This is provably one of the reasons why we are witnessing loss of our prized possessions that carry historical weight like the medal presented to Tagore by the Nobel Committee and the statue of Buddha from the Kolkata museum.

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