Apoorva Joshi

PhD student - Michigan State University; Independent journalist - environment, science and international news.

Fellow - International League of Conservation Writers.

Member - Society of Environmental Journalists, International Communication Association.

A Killer on the Loose..

Part II of the Modi Matter - more matter, less manner.
Headlines of newspapers today- Modi owns up to fake encounter. - Our valiant Mr.M has just owned up to killing a certain Mr.Sohrabbudin (apology for spelling errors if any) , who's wife, was also murdered a while later under "mysterious" circumstances.
Now the basic concern being- The CM of Gujarat has just owned up to murdering someone, in public! , and he's still the CM, still sitting in his warm cosy office, spreading Anti-Muslim statements and insulting the very concept of democracy. Just when we think that he couldnt possibly go any further in dropping lower, he does something so wonderfully low and proves us wrong each time!! Way to go Mr.Modi!!
So, we have a murderer on the run, for killing someone in a fake encounter alleging that the poor guy had arms and ammunition, ok, so whatever was the Police for then?!! Mr.Modi has an IPS degree?? Didnt know! To get him in an ever tighter spot, i came up with this to add to our sad Lion story.
Moving back to our heroes, the Lions, there are lots more things that folks havent realised yet, these Lions are roaming a National Park of fully protected area 258 sq.kms. and a Sanctuary of 1153 sq.kms. The numbers are now about 350 and they need more room but the Gir forest is boxed in on all sides with human habitation. This overpopulation is squeezing the King of the Jungle into a forever ravaged home, where He has to fall in wells that are dug by the locals, and are unfenced, where He is poisoned because he moves out of the congested forest into the land of those who congested it. Every year the farmers dig more open wells but the State Government of Gujarat has done nothing to make these illegal. There is an urgent need to pass a law to make open-wells illegal and farmers should be legally required to build a parapet wall around the wells and fence them in.
Farmers on the periphery of the Gir National Park frequently use illegal electric fences to protect their crops from raiding wild animals, specially from herds of Nilgai and connect high voltage overhead power lines directly to these fences. This has on several occasions led to the electrocution of Asiatic Lions and other wildlife.
The biggest threat faced by the park is the presence of Maldharis. This community is vegetarian and does not indulge in poaching because the people are basically pasturalists, with an average of 50 cattle (mainly Gir Cow) per family. So during grass-scarce seasons Maldharis, even from outside the sanctuary, bring their cattle into the park under the pretext of selling them and take them away after the monsoon season. So eventually it has become grazing ground for a large number of cattle, not only of the Maldharis but also for those living in an area of say 100 km around the park. These people are legally entitled to live in the park but slowly the area around the nesses (small hamlets where Maldharis live) is becoming denuded of vegetation. The population of Maldharis, as well as their numbers of cattle, is increasing and some Maldharis have houses outside the forest but still keep their cattle inside the forest to get unlimited access to forage. One of the outcomes of this is that the natural population of the wild ungulates of the protected area which forms the prey base suffers and sometimes the Asiatic lions which have attacked livestock are poisoned.
The Lions are facing a severe risk of death due to epidemic spread of diseases in the Park. The are all in very very close range from each other and if, unfortunately, there were to be an epidemic, the ENTIRE population of the Critically Endangered Asiatic Lions would be finished!! Completely gone! Alarming risk is what i call this! We've put those Top predators on the menu for extinct species! Even genetically speaking, inbreeding and weak genes would make them even more vulnerable than they are, if thats possible now, after all of Mr.Modi's contributions to ensure that they live the most pathetic and pitiful life.
Yes, the Tiger deserves our urgent attention. Yes, the Gharial does too. And just to add to this already worrying fact of how most of India's wildlife is hitting the "legendary list", come the Lions..
Gir, is beautiful. No doubt. But it does not have an indefinite expanse! Of course i havent finished yet! Ive got one MORE point now. Kuno- which Modi claims will see a fight for survival between Lions and Tigers. Kuno was once home to 6 Tigers, but since 2005, there has been no Tiger evidence. Kuno is 300 sq.kms., yes. But it happens to be lying within 2500 sq.kms. of beautiful landscape, of forest! So the Lion's future isnt a blur here. The Tiger Reserve closest to Kuno is Ranthambhore. It isnt very far. But the Chambal River and the human settlement around it, are an assuring barrier for Tiger movement into Kuno.
Kuno is home to poachers and wildlife traders. Shivapuri and Sabalgarh areas are full of wildlife traders. A poacher named Devisingh, ace poacher, was caught from Kuno area. Devisingh poached 5 Tigers from the core or heart area of Ranthambhore as he confessed in front of video cameras. Point is- poachers do not look at almost dead or dying forests for their money. If they're operating here, it suggests, Kuno is good. It's more than good. So, extra protection, and fair enough laws, and that one eternal obstruction going by the name of Modi, if these factors were looked at, wont the Lions have a brighter and better future??
The fight between Wildlifers and Politicians will never die down unless and until they stop giving permission to build ports on Endangered Turtles' nesting sites, until they stop being stupidly possessive about the wrongest things ever, until they stop using their 'ever ready to lash out' tongues and use those rusting brains instead. The poor old good politicians being out numbered by the majority of businessmen who call themselves politicians..pity them. But, yes, we're all with them! With those who fight for cause, not just any cause. But the right cause! Open your eyes Mr.Murderer Modi.. time's come.

Powered by Squarespace. Background image by Apoorva Joshi