" Trees are Earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven." ~ Rabindranath Tagore

Whipping Wild India

Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary and Cub magazines bemoans the many factors that contribute to making environmental protection an uphill task in India.

I sat and watched in wonder as giant squirrels leaped from branch to branch, often causing exquisite leaf birds to scatter from their quiet green havens. The call of the squirrels and birdsong accompanied me throughout the day in the fabled forest of Bori in Madhya Pradesh, where neolithic cave paintings spoke of the appreciation of things natural by communities that lived here thousands of years ago. What is it in our mental make up that leaves us incapable of appreciating and protecting the only true assets we have? Over the years it is clear that wildernesses such as these are deteriorating yet we seem paralysed into inaction.

There is time to save this wilderness, but is fast vanishing and once it reaches a point of no return, another heaven and another earth would be needed to recreate it's magic.

Businessmen conspire to build casinos and hotels in the heart of forests we wished to set aside for tigers.

Beautiful Beasts
Paradise in the Wild
The Ocean:Conquest
A Source of Solace
Sighting the Ocean
The Ocean in Verse
Childhood Dream
Hunt for Indian Tiger

Adventure activities
Rock Climbing
Scuba Diving

Leisure Holidays
Wild Life

Project Elephant never ever got off the ground. Lacking the leadership that Project Tiger was able to benefit from in the person of Kailash Sankhala, Project Elephant has remained a grey initiative, operating within government confines, bound by government limitations. The key problem is dwindling habitat and broken migratory corridors. On top of all this, the latest threat is an emerging market for elephant meat, particularly in tribal areas.


Forest officers, of course, plead either innocence or helplessness. They say that they are ill-equipped to deal with this national loss. But they do not deny the fact that such activities have now become virtually commonplace.

All it takes is a brief trip to the Bangladesh side of the border to discover that that nation has already wiped out it's standing forests. Why India, which shouts from every available podium about it's commitment to protecting it's forests should allow a handful of crooks, in cahoots with a handful of politically well-connected individuals to destabilise our ecological assets defies logic.

Reliable sources suggest that insurrectionists and terrorists are using timber as a medium of exchange to finance their anti-national activities. If this is true,it makes sense to call the army in to help fight the mafia is such specific areas. The mafia, is armed to the teeth with sophisticated weaponry. The forest department on the other hand is ill-equipped and motivation-less. Little wonder that our forests are vanishing.


Apart from cutting down forests, those who put cash above national interests have been active on the poaching front as well. The nexus between circuses and the illegal trade in wildlife products has been talked about for some years now, but this is the first time that hard evidence of their skullduggery has turned up. Ms. Maneka Gandhi has been speaking out against circuses for quite some time now and she has often suggested that circus employees and owners use their activities as a front for poaching. The use of wild animals in circuses must be banned. Not only as these unfortunate creatures come from forests, but they obviously provide a front for a bloody trade as well.

It sometimes amazes me that our country so consistently puts the worst people in charge of the most critical jobs. Our food supply and production, for instance, has been left to populist politicians and pliable agronomists in the control of aggressive corporations selling pesticides and fertilisers. Our surface transport ministry is now largely controlled by contractors and land sharks who, in the name of infrastructure are living off large parcels of land that are being commercially developed. Our forests, sadly, are in the hands of bureaucrats and forest officers whose indoctrination by the World Bank is now so complete that forest management virtually means commercialisation, following the dictates of the World Bank. The unfortunate victims of this frightful farce include the tiger, elephant and houbara bustard; and the many human communities whose cultures evolved in consonance with the wilderness. The nation, of course, stands to lose it's natural heritage and it's water security.


What a far cry from the 1970's when Project Tiger, helped save the dying tiger with support from the late Mrs. Gandhi, Prime Minister of India. Today, for all the above reasons and more the tiger is once again faced with imminent extinction. Because our current politicians lack vision and our businessmen cannot see beyond profit, all our past wildlife gains are being lost.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.