Wednesday 1 October 2014

Praising Uttarakhand Hunter Lakhpat Rai Rawat is Unfortunate!

Written by Anil Singh

Why it's foolish and unfortunate to praise Uttarakhand hunter for outdoing Jim Corbett. Doesn't matter, if he's popular among the locals as the double-barrel saviour.

Wild cats or Tigers, leopards & others are an endangered species in India. That's why they are given protection by various wildlife laws. Under this light, reading lauding reports and news pieces in newspapers and TV channel , praising the feats of hunters don't look good. Irrespective of the motive of gunning down of such endangered species. The dislike emanates from the dichotomy of the two acts. You can't encourage wildlife killing for any logic and at any cost, when you have laws protecting them.

Hunter Lakhpat Rai Rawat with his Kill : Such photographs will
not help us Save our Wild Cats
A teacher in Uttarakhand, Lakhpat Singh Rawat, 50, has been made a celebrity sort of by a section of Media. For some years now, he's being hailed as the double-barrel saviour of Uttarakhand masses , who has gunned down 45 man-eaters in 13 years. A feat, widely reported from the past few days, as one outscoring British legendary hunter Jim Corbett. In short, we are reading lauding articles informing us that Lakhpat Rai Rawat has surpassed Jim corbett in shooting down man-eaters (Corbett had killed 33 during 1907 and 1938).

What's funny and unfortunate is the fact that , it's deputy director of Corbett Tiger Reserve, Saket Badola,  who is giving briefs to the media, saying : "Rawat had hunted one tiger too as his 35th kill in 2011, while Corbett had shot down 19 man-eater tigers and 14 leopards.

This is Ridiculous

With due sympathies to the Uttarkhand villagers, who suffer losses at the hands of wild cats, I want to make a point.

Gone are the days where a hunter such as Jim Corbett is seen as a conservationist. The time has changed, not because the number of leopards has dwindled in Uttarakhand, but also because Conservation has become more than hunting down a leopard declared as man eater. If the times have not changed, then it's better to scrap the laws protecting the wild cats. You can't laud hunters, while protecting the wild cats at the same time.

That part, when human population is fast encroaching on the wild habitats, the people-animal conflicts are inevitable. But that doesn't mean one can praise the hunter. Even when he's seen as a saviour of the people.

Newspapers and TV channels must stop publishing and showing reports how great a particular hunter is and how hunting runs in his blood, coming all the way from his grandfather.

The Wildlife department must focus on reducing the man-animal conflict and how an animal is caught alive. This may not be the best strategy at hand. This may increase their work, and put pressure on the Government to equip them well, but it's surely better than an official narrating as to how the hunter was called to hunt a man-eater leopard which had devoured 12 children in Gairsain in 2000. It's also better as we have laws to conserve the wild cats. Blaming the animal and having no sympathies for the animal makes the it a villain and encourages them gunning down, on smallest of pretext.


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