Even as the human species has got embroiled in conflicts at the levels of family, society, community, region, country and world at large, for causes that don’t see the species in good light, the phenomenon of man-animal conflict is being frequently reported on in the media. Public opinion in the circles of literati seems to be skewed in tone and expression holding the speechless species as the authors of the conflict. Incidents of elephants trampling on human beings, tigers attacking grazing cattle, leopards devouring poultry and serpents causing death of people working in agricultural fields are making news whenever they happen. Such incidents being few and far between, as reported in the dailies, conceal the inhuman acts of human beings, killing the denizens of their rightful habitat for satisfying their greed, pleasure and monetary gain, selling ivory, pelt, nails, scales and blood of various animals, unarguably the root cause of one-sided man-animal conflict, the sole author of which is the human being. The law that bars using animals as circus performers and creation of sanctuaries for various categories of animals and also disallowing keeping animals in private custody have been laudable measures, but the conflict issue has remained largely unchanged.
The country’s sages of yore have given expression to the outlook of live and let live saying “let all life forms live happily” (sarvejanaah sukhino bhavanthu… loka samastah sukhino bhavanthu).” India’s Prime Minister has gone on record with his dream of progress for all through participation of all (Sab ka saath, Sab ka vikas). To exclude animals and birds in this scheme of things doesn’t portend well for humanity.
The kings of the land, as the legend reveals, took to the act of protecting people from animals straying into human habitat. The measure, limited to use of bow and arrow, posed no threat to the denizens of the forest to the extent of creating the much-avowed conflict situation. Yet again, thanks to inventions and advances in technology, man, armed with weapons and ammo, virtually pushed the speechless species to helplessness. If only the animals possessed more awesome means of offence and defence than their claws and teeth, may be the man-animal conflict would lead to a different story. The numbers of major animals such as elephants, tigers, lions, leopards, rhinos and so on, hosted in the country, being wild guestimates, don’t guarantee their survival, given the undesirable human intrusion into their territory, encroaching, laying roads, chopping trees and neglecting forest-fires.
Granting the position of a superior being, preying on animals and yielding to greed, as the undoing of human species at large, can be traced to utter ignorance of ecology of the planet. If species other than human beings are not allowed to live in peace, nature is sure to hurt the life of human species no end.