It was the first week of June 2020 when whole of India was shocked to read about the death of a pregnant elephant on account of ‘being fed’ with crackers laden pineapple. The news as horrific as it was to read, became more harrowing on account of the genuinely love and grief laden reactions of netizens. It was ironic to see that the event howsoever gruesome it was, also showed the compassionate edge of humans. Having been quite affected by the event I tried to do some research on the status of Indian wildlife. Thus I came across this gem of a book “THE VANISHING Indian Wildlife” by Prerna Singh Bindra.
Prerna Singh Bindra is a conservationist and has been a member of the standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). The book describes the state as well as ‘future’ of wildlife and natural wealth of India based on her years of experience. The chapters takes the reader from learning how the NBWL and Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) came into existence and how these entities have dwindled from the very objective they were made to stand for in the last three decades. Subsequently the book covers the status of forest animals such as Tigers and Elephants, the sporadic numbers of birds such as Great Indian Bustard, the consequences of construction of dams on the life of Indian Gangetic Dolphins and Ghariyals, the fast paced loss of territory of Olive Ridley Turtles for laying their eggs and the silence of sounds of wild creatures in the midst of the cacophony of urban cities. Most importantly the book discusses the importance of political will to stand up for wildlife, something that has terribly been missed since 1990s.
The book however is not a narration of only the lack of empathy amongst Homo sapiens towards environment. Infact it celebrates a number of arduous and passionate nature lovers ranging from forest officers, conservationists as well as simple yet profound villagers. Thus while the book throws the harsh reality at your face, it also gives you the ray of hope that not all is lost, provided we act fast.
Overall I got a lot of insights into the dilapidated yet promising future of our wildlife, that depends totally on our intent. I was reminded yet again that how the jurisdiction on which life matter depends on which side of the story we stand with. While we worship our animals in temples and culturally venerate all forms of life, we unapologetically exploit them in real life.
Personally the book also reminded me of the short-lived and double-standard memory of us humans. We show a one-day long ‘sympathy’ for an elephant in one instance and totally compromise the same when one of our ‘Superstar’ gets away with killing the chinkaras and blackbucks. Meanwhile all that comes to my mind while thinking of these helpless animals living/hiding in our urban fringes are the words of Parveen Shakir, इतने घने बादल के पीछे कितना तन्हा होगा चाँद! (How lonely must be the moon behind the thick cloud)
So to all my readers, if you would REALLY like to know of the grim reality our fellow denizens of India are facing please read this book. I learnt a lot from it and I am sure you would too. https://www.amazon.in/dp/0670088870/ref=cm_sw_r_wa_apa_i_qYvhFbSP8XFZ5