Sunday 28 April 2013

Stop Celebrating Hunter Lakhpat Singh as the Savior of Uttarakhand People!

Written by Anil Singh

If you have read about famous hunter Jim Corbett; then you would also know how Jim Corbett is remembered till this day. Jim Corbett is remembered as a Hunter, Environmentalist and Conservator. In short, he was not just a Hunter, he was an environmentalist & a conservator as well.

 The way we remember Jim Corbett is important. It tells what we focus on.

Adding environmentalist and conservator to describe the iconic figure, on whose name India created its first national park for Tigers, is an important distinction  It tells that for Corbett, Conservation of Wild life was more important that gunning one animal down.  One incident which speaks volumes about this, was the killing of man eater leopard in Gulabrai, Rudraprayag. It's a recorded fact that in his second attempt to kill the man eater, which turned out to be successful, Corbett waited for fifteen nights.

Corbett was first an environmentalist and a conservator and then a hunter was reflected in his knowledge about the Himalayan flora and fauna (plant and animal species respectively . To kill the man-eater leopard of Rudraprayag, Corbett laid the trap for the man-eater only after dark. When asked why, he didn't lay the trap during the day, he gave the following explanation:

Leopards and Tigers may both turn into man eaters. But there's one difference. A leopard which normally is afraid of humans, remains so even when it becomes a man eater. Hence a man eater leopard, will venture out on its prowl after dark. Tiger on contrary, which normally avoids contact with humans; becomes rash once it turns man eater. Hence a Tiger ventures out on its kill during day time as well.
I hope these two examples are a clear proof that Corbett was a Conservator and Environmentalist first; and a hunter latter.

You may be wondering why I'm telling you this today. As I want to talk about the Lakhpat Singh Negi. The hunter who has killed as many leopards in Uttarakhand; as some of our gun trotting encounter specialists killed humans. Interestingly, both our human shooting encounter specialists and leopard shooting Lakhpat, are seeing their kills as trophies. Which is bad.

Bad because, we are not living in Jim Corbett's times. We are living in 2013. During Corbett's days leopards may be in aplenty, but now they are endangered. You can't kill them with the fall of a hat and later count them as your trophies (Watch Lakhpat count his trophies in this video). That apart, unlike Corbett's times, today humans are the encroachers in Wild habitats. The situation may not have reached that level in Uttarakhand Hills; but still no one can dispute the population rise.

But this simple fact is not being acknowledged by even the proletariat of the state. This includes the print and electronic media as well. A recent example proves this. A month or two ago, some person wrote a book on the exploits of Lakhpat Singh. Both the print and the electronic media covered the news prominently, Hailing the hunter as he savior of the Uttarakhand people. Covering the news was one thing, hailing Lakhpat Singh as hunter was another. In short, it was least needed. TV News Channels and Newspapers need to have better Heads.

To conclude, Lakhpat Singh may be killing leopards to save the Uttarakhand Hill people. And by the looks of it, the guy is a simple Uttarakhand-ite who deeply wants to help his fellow people. But merely killing leopards won't help. He must don the role of conservator and environmentalist too. Taking his hunter job too seriously will disillusion him later. As merely looking at the number of leopards he has killed in a short duration of a few years; points to a careless picture. A picture which should make us think.

We should be asking the question:   Were all these leopards man-eaters? Is there any possibility where a non man-eater leopard was killed?      Think over these questions and you will know why it's not good to celebrate Hunter Lakhpat Singh as the savior of Uttarakhand People.

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