The Financial Express


Are man and animals on a collision course?

Are man and animals on a collision course?

A group of hanumans (long tailed langurs) -- sounds like humans and certainly humanoid in traits -- arrives at a police station in Jessore. A baby monkey was hurt as local people attacked it when the flock went there looking for food. As if the group of monkeys has come to the police station to lodge a complaint against those who have stricken the baby hanuman. They show no inclination to leave the thana premise unless their grievance is redressed. The officer-in-charge had a tough time convincing the cousins of the human kind that the group had better left the place. After much entreaty and offer of foods, the hanumans leave.

No, this is not a National Geographic documentary nor a shooting of a B-town film. It really happened at a place (Keshabpur was it?) in Jessore last year. Strangely, the hanumans took the law enforcers into confidence that they might get a redress. To the law enforcers' credit, they were patient enough to feel the grievance of the animals which rather showed maturity in bringing the matter to the knowledge of the men in uniform.

Clearly, the clash between man and animal has long become inevitable because of man's aggression in increasingly staking claim on forest lands or wilderness where animals have ever lived without crossing the path of man. The human species has become accustomed to considering animals mere games and gleefully hunted them -numerous of them to extinction - no matter for food or simply fun. Only in the past century could people realise the importance of coexistence between and among their species and flora and fauna. Tree plantation and afforestation started gaining momentum to the level of social movement in select areas. Following this, organisations also took to the onerous duty of saving fauna from extinction. But in many cases these have proved too little and too late.

However, some dedicated people like Steve Irwin have been successful in inculcating in people the value of preserving even the animals considered universally dangerous. Yet unappeased avarice of man has been running amok to clandestinely committing mayhem to the animal species for their highly priced organs in international market. Illegal poachers are active all across the world to decimate birds and animals in their natural settings or during their migration. The United Nations and governments now collaborate to save the species on the verge of extinction but still the task proves more challenging with the passage of time.

The fact is that man's priority has been recognised as an inalienable right and then those illegal poachers have a powerful international network to challenge even government organs in charge of preserving the species. Thus the human population is proliferating but many of the species in the flora and fauna kingdom are either declining or getting extinct. The latest bushfire in Australia and the Amazonian forest fire have brought to the fore how helpless the human kind is to protect animals from such natural calamities. The impact of the losses of flora and fauna will be immeasurable not only for Latin America or Australia but also for the entire planet that seems to be in turmoil of late.

At home, monkeys, deer and elephants are at risk of starving and therefore foraging into human localities. They are also showing desperation. While monkeys snatch foods from children and the elderly, elephant herds spoil crops and enter villages to eat stored foods or their favourite banana plants. Deer and monkeys too do not get enough foods in their natural habitats. So they risk their own safety to make forays in crop fields, orchards, living compounds including kitchens. What else can the animals do when there is no other alternative to such ploys?

It seems animals and man are on a collision course. But are they? Back to their wall the wildlife is forced to visit human locations out of necessity. Man is responsible for this. If the animals are not disturbed, their habitats destroyed and are left alone to have their ways, they dare not take on the species that has invented weapons to annihilate any animal including themselves.

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