Thursday, 12 January 2017

The Tiger King by Kalki suggests we need a new system to protect our ecology!

The Age of ecology is about protecting and respecting life in all forms.

A reading of Kalki's The Tiger King suggests that we need to work on a system that is embedded in the care of not only human beings but also the earth and all life upon it. What the Tiger King does is simply not what is expected of human beings today. Instances of high profile people hunting and shooting down exotic animals have been treated with dismay and disgust. A few years back (2014) a dentist from Minnesota killed Cecil a black-maned lion in Zimbabwe. Walter Palmer killed Cecil in a bow hunt after allegedly paying $50,000/- for the privilege - Jim Zarroli. The story was that the lion had been lured away from a National Park before being killed. 
At home in India too, we have come across incidents where leopards have been found straying into villages and towns only to be attacked and killed brutally by human beings. This human versus animal conflict has been increasing to a great extent in the recent years and wildlife experts suggest that this is because human beings have themselves started encroaching into wildlife sanctuaries. The need for space has led to wild animals straying out of their sanctuaries in search of food. In our greed for space, we have destroyed what was by all rights the home of tigers, leopards, and even elephants!

We need a new system for the age of ecology!

The agenda for all policy makers and people who matter in the Government, of course, should be to create a system which is embedded in the care of all people and also in the care of the Earth and all life upon it. The Tiger King's responsibility should have been to protect the tigers and not to decimate them! It is highly ironical that " A proclamation was issued to the effect that if anyone dared to fling so much as a stone at a tiger, all his wealth and property would be confiscated." The "celebration" by the tigers in Pratibandapuram after the "proclamation" was premature and short-lived as the Maharaja started killing tigers one after the other. One cannot, however, claim that the Tiger King was not aware of the fact that he was breaking the law and so he claimed that he had killed the tigers in "self-defence"!
Kalki's The Tiger King parodies the lightness with which people who matter treat environmental degradation. The extinction of the tigers in Pratibandapuram is blamed on "birth control or...harakiri...Or simply (running) away from the State because they desired to be shot by British hands alone." Nobody is ready to state the obvious that the tigers were driven to extinction because of the Tiger King and not because of any of the above reasons! The Maharaj's Minions are equally to blame for the decimation of the tiger population because they acquiesced in the whole crime - they were partners in crime, they should have objected and raised their voices in favor of the poor tigers! This is indirectly a comment on the common man's abdication of his own responsibility towards protecting the ecology of the Earth. What we need today is a system that is robust enough to protect the ecology and not just do lip service. We need to create a system that is respected by everyone, a system which protects life in all forms. The poaching of tigers in the tiger reserves, smuggling of turtles, trading in exotic birds and animals all point towards an aberration in the existing system. People in power like the Tiger  King need to understand that they have a responsibility towards the protection and care of the entire Earth. Educating the common man about the importance of having a healthy and well-balanced ecology will go a long way in making him understand how the ecology affects his personal life. Accepting the boundaries of wildlife sanctuaries to be sacrosanct and the need to "live and let live" will help protect the environment and the animal and bird species that reside in them.

The conflict between man and nature also results from the introduction of domesticated animals in national parks.

1. Kalki, The Tiger King: Vistas Supplementary Reader in English for Class XII
2. Zarroli Jim, No Prosecution For Dentist Who Killed Cecil The Lion: October 13, 2015

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