Thursday, August 16, 2018

Media and animal rights

“The ferocious leopard was hiding, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting man when he went to his garage to park his car. After the man saw the leopard, he immediately raised an alarm which led 15 people to march ahead equipped with weapons and rods. They dragged the beast out of the garage and showered him with brick bats. Someone called the forest department and they took the half dead leopard to the veterinary where he was declared dead,” stated the television journalist dramatically while recounting the horror of the leopard attack. As I try to spot the ‘beast’ amidst the crowd, I see a tired animal on its guard trying to find a way out of this hovering crowd. The recent stories of the marauding elephants plundering human habitats, storming into houses or crushing agricultural crops are just one side of the story. Most stories overlook the seriousness of man elephant conflict that has a long standing impact and often dwell on drama and repetitive narrative pertaining to animal ferocity. The encroachment of the animal corridors as well as the absence of protected fringe areas during natural disasters like floods find little mention in the news channel with no follow-ups. It is not always the leopard who is ferocious, hiding and waiting to pounce on the most unsuspecting victims as flashed across the news channels but rather the human habitats that have veered into their territory. The camera that tilts the angle on the animal to incite the ferocity of the lonesome tiger or the leopard is often assisted by dramatic music implying that the wild is waiting to conquer human habitats. The killing of the wild elephants through electrocution of the arrogant trains that slide past the elephant corridors brutally do not really get as much of coverage and what we have is only bewildered journo occasionally confusing a leopard between a tiger, wild cat or members of cat family In an interview noted environmentalist, three time green Oscar winner and a regular activist of animal rights Dr Mike Pandey states that, “The media has very limited knowledge on animals and ecological balance, hence their presentations are often half baked. There should be sensitisation on the different breeds, habitat and lifestyle of the animals so that the way they present does not belittle the safety of the animals.” Sadly the grim reality is quite the contrary. Most of the natural habitats of these wild animals have been encroached upon and these wild animals are pushed and bullied to survive in small swathes of protected areas which are fast losing their entity every decade. These uncomfortable truths are often sugar coated and very rarely spoken off. Quite recently when evicted forest land was cleared off, there were more stories of human interest and less stories of animal interest that were reflected upon. Notwithstanding the interest of the displaced, often the interest of the wildlife and forests are blanketed with political agenda. An animal activist of the state had recently stated, “If only animals could vote they would have been safe.” This statement echo’s the flaws in the existing forest laws and the recent softening While figures of the wild life records are hardly impressive and are close to being pessimistic, the current media can take up issues of wildlife and study the changing climate and environment condition bfore leding a comment to it. Quite interestingly, the recent extinction of the last male white rhino, Sudan has triggered global interest in wildlife conservation and one can only hope that the media will showcase similar sobriety in coverage of the wildlife issues that requires much attention.Here the African adage clearly applies which states “Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

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