Monday, 20 July 2015

A Question from the Wild

I have often contemplated how difficult it is for us humans to survive in today's industrialized and polluted cities. We are more to be run over by a vehicle or die of cancer than we were a few decades ago. And then it struck me how much more agonizing it perhaps is to be an animal in today's world of total human dominance.

We have not only established our place at the top of the food chain but also made it clear to all other living beings that they are mere underlings at our mercy. Our mindless urbanization has reduced forestlands and marshlands where many animals would thrive once upon a time. We, as a specie, pride ourselves on our scientific progress, but we must me ashamed of our selfish attitude that has led to the extinction of quite a few species and rendered many others endangered or vulnerable.

Today, I am going to vote for three species that I strongly feel should be conserved. The first of those is the ungulate species of antelope - Antilope cervicapra, commonly known as the blackbuck. These slender creatures thrive in open plains and woodlands. With humans culling trees and setting up factories on plains, these blackbucks are losing their homes at an alarming rate! Blackbucks generally travel in herds and graze on grasses. The reducing number of blackbucks makes it harder for solo fawns to survive. In addition to wild predators, illegal poachers pose a great threat to them.

A blackbuck strolls about in Velavadar National Park, Gujarat

Not many of us know that the blackbuck is native to the Indian subcontinent and is classified as near-threatened by IUCN. Blackbucks need to be conserved because they are the only surviving species of the antelope genus! Just imagine what will happen if this species is extinct! The entire antelope genus will cease to exist! Believers of mythology must know that blackbucks are regarded as auspicious, so killing them must certainly be a sin!

The second specie I wish to conserve is the Macaca silenus or lion-tailed macaque. These old world monkeys are very special as they are endemic to the Western Ghats, that too in South India. These animals are called Bartaffe (beard ape) in jest as they have a lustrous white mane covering their contrasting ebony-black face. Also known as wanderoo, these primates romp about in tropical rainforests in the night. They are essentially diurnal and excellent climbers. They spend most of their time far from the ground and up above in the upper canopy of evergreen trees.

A lion-tailed macaque stares into the camera at Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu

Population of the lion-tailed macaque is declining rapidly due to indiscriminate construction of water reservoirs for plantations of tea, coffee and teak in Kerala. Powerhouse-construction (to support humans living in the areas) has also added to this issue.

The third specie that I am rooting for is also one of my favourites - Panthera tigris, aka, the Bengal tiger! This royal creature has starred in many movies and documentaries. Many campaigns and features have run to save the Royal Bengal tiger. But that has not stopped from this national animal of India to be labelled endangered. Tigers largely live solitary lives and have the confidence to take on predators and preys with equal grace and strength. The piercing gaze of a tiger is enough to make one's heart skip a beat. This ferocious wild cat fiercely protects its territory and trespassers are often overpowered by its sheer weight and might.

Piercing gaze of a Bengal tiger in Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan

Please save these three species. We must especially keep India's national animal alive, or forever hang our heads in shame. Humans will show their true skill not when they can rule over the entire animal kingdom, but when they learn to live amicably with the wild.

In my dreams, I often hear a question from the wild - "Will our cubs and fawns and calves and babies live to see the Earth? Or will they die living in a concrete jungle, breathing toxic fumes in place of clean air?" The answer is in our hands. Which one will you choose?

I am participating in the Save the Species contest for the book “Capturing Wildlife Moments in India” in association with Saevus Wildlife India.  Read the reviews for the book ‘Capturing Wildlife Moments in India’ here.


  1. If this were a post about a movie review, people would have thronged to read it. Sadly, only very few of us care about Nature, even fewer about animals.

    I hope these species survive, especially the Bengal tiger, its magnificence is not quite captured by mere photos.


    1. Thanks for echoing my view, CookieCrumbs! We need more people who care about animals and nature.


Let me hear your thoughts!