A visit to Dharmshala’s Wild Life Sanctuary was thought-provoking and unfortunately disturbing.
As we all stood awestruck with the magnificence and opulence of the peacock, the reality was far from majestic. It was indeed a pitiable sight, one that lacked the grandeur of freedom.
We heard noise coming from the Leopards’ section and saw a man taking immense pleasure in irritating two cubs. He would beat at the cage and as they would shoot at him, he would back off. This idiosyncratic activity confirmed a clearer view of the cubs to the man’s family, who stood behind as a dumb audience waiting to applaud each time the poor Leopard would hit against the cage with all its might. Little did they care about the mental and physical harassment they were causing to the little ones.
I shouted at him “Hey! Don’t Do This!”
In India, sadly if nothing works, usage of English Language does (years of insecurity and pseudo existence). The man was apparently intimidated.
However he mustered all his courage and said, “I won’t get hurt, I move back every time he jumps.”
I was flaring with anger, “Who is even talking about you? I am concerned about the cubs, they are getting hurt. You better stop right now. I am a Wildlife activist, from PETA.”
For a moment I thought I gave enough clues to being a fake, but his ignorance proved useful and he obliged as well as his family, who said “Yes, yes don’t do this, she is right.”
While I felt relieved to watch them go, I felt ashamed of my own self as well. I had clicked pictures of some of them and was wondering how different was I from him? Wasn’t that camera irritating those poor caged selves? Wasn’t I being hypocritical in alleging only that man of ignorance? Where was my conscience while capturing those pictures?
But if they are not kept in such sanctuaries, are they safe? Can’t these sanctuaries be made better, more hygienic and friendlier? But then they become tourist destinations, with Chipps wrappers and loud music a hindrance in their already turbulent lives.
I felt sorry, not just for them, but also for myself, I am not finding any solution to this dilemma, and am watching others suffer. I hope we do find one, before it’s too late.
We have all nurtured fantasies of happy world as children, perhaps some of those dreams come true.