Friends of Dhole’s Den,
Greetings! Its been quite a silent season for us at Bandipur and we do realise that the safari is a big part in your stay. But the silence gives you time to ponder upon, revel and above all contemplate. As a young man (Well I think I am still ) watching films from the great masters that have influenced me in many ways than one and have ended up in a very big belief where I believe its a matter of one’s own strength NOT TO FIGHT. I am againt war and violence of any kind and its in this spirit that this blog is written today.
I don’t want to fight the tiger! Well it’s not just me, its my whole team at Dhole’s Den. We dont wish to fight the tiger. Yes we want to fight with him and for him. So that the last wilderness where he and her cubs can still play on a patch of green grass in the forest. A forest that is holy and untouched by mining or any form of commercial use.
We humans have the habit of just taking from mother earth. We want to give back. No we dont want tourism that is detrimental. No I dont wish to hide behind numbers and economic miracles around national parks that have happened (well there are some if you believe…) and I dont wish to say for the nth time that the lodges and the park is the source of employment for many who would be otherwise poaching. And also that all safari drivers were not poachers yesterday but contributed in their own way to protect wildlife. And the forest department had allowed them to take on their profession. What will it take then to make sure it goes on? Banning safaris is no solution. Period.
Tourism that gives back and puts back than just taking is the need of the hour. Be it water to fill our swimming pools or Jacuzzis, exotic dishes for your palate which taste of more of aerofuel than cheese. Burning diesel because we require the air-conditioner to function shouldn’t it be a worry to tourists? Wake up call! Be a responsible traveller if you fancy the wilderness.
We need tourism that saves the forests and we need tourists who don’t wage war with their Canons and Nikons every weekend on every avian, ungulate, pachyderm or feline. No we need a refined tourist who understands wilderness and can appreciate the chirping of a Silver bill as much as a growl of a leopard. A tourist who is in love with nature and doesn’t hop in every week so that the number of likes on his Facebook page or the light of his friends competes with the number of hair on his body (His head is anyway bald worrying if he will get the perfect shot and the perfect place in the jeep).
A saying in German goes: Reisen bildet. Meaning Travel educates you. People who can appreciate nature in its glory as it is, will understand why it’s difficult but why it’s necessary to be different. Visitors who throng the park just for the tiger. Well let’s all say we don’t want you. We need visitors who visit the park and not park themselves. Our fast life gives us a million possibilities and our millions make many things possible. But all our millions won’t bring the missing elephants due to the drought in Karnataka back in Bandipur forests nor will the Dhole reappear just because we can pay for it.
All that and more will just be possible if we are ready to give back. I like the small anecdote that one of the founders of the Africat Foundation told during an interview:
An Arabic saying goes like this. At the end when a man dies, Allah won’t ask him which tribe he belongs to, no he won’t ask him how much money he made, no he will ask: What did you do to the land I gave you?
I want the children of our world to be happy when they see a tiger and if it means we move from our staunch stands yes us should. Why fight the truth and why fight the tiger’s right to survive or even the beetle for that matter? We humans are good enough to fend for ourselves aren’t we?
Many of us will also say if there isn’t anybody overlooking what the government agencies and others are doing to the park the animals won’t survive the pressure of poaching. Well my answer is lets fight so that everybody is forced to fall in line and do his or her job and yes its our right to see a tiger in the wild and if it means we who live near the park have to take a different route then so be it, to make sure the animals mate without disturbance, drink water because its there in plenty and we havent robbed them of it.
We will need bold measures to regulate tourism activity in and around the park. A tourism board is a god idea. Be it the number of vehicles. According to my view it better be the number of guests as that would be the right measurement of pressure on the ecosystem of the park. Countries like Bhutan have a policy in place to control the number of tourists. We all can wait to see that tiger in the wild. Tourism needs to be regulated to save nature from destruction.
No I dont want to fight the tiger, wait endless hours to get that photograph, cordon his movement by declaring zones and marking them with signboards as if he could read it. By making sure I demand things remain as it is I am doing just that. Change is the only truth and if we dont change we will also not very soon become extinct like the roar of the tiger is in the danger of becoming extinct.
Call the above a mad man’s dream or an idealist’s idea of life. I want to be different. I refuse to fight the Tiger just for selfish gain. Join me?