In election bound Uttarakand, wild-lifers managed to catch a rogue elephant alive on Saturday morning even as hundreds of locals demanded that the tusker be killed for attacking them.
The state government, once again, had sided with humans and ordered killing of the animal. Hundreds of locals, whose crops had been destroyed, had been agitating seeking a death warrant for the animal.
But, some enthusiastic wild-lifers from Wildlife Trust of India and Wildlife Institute of India convinced the forest department officials, who were under pressure from their political bosses that the animal should be given a chance to live.
Their fifteen day effort in the hills of Rishikesh bore result when they managed to traunqualise the animal and catch him alive. He is being released in Chilla forest range. The elephant was fortunate to survive but many other elephant and tigers in India in recent past have fallen victim to this vote-bank politics. Humans get priority over wildlife even though they may have encroached on the animal’s land, just because they have power of franchise.
In the last couple of years over a dozen elephants and tigers have died just for coming in the path of human beings. In Corbett National Park in 2010, a tiger was declared a man-eater and shot down near Sunderkhal village. His fault was attacking human beings, which he found on his traditional route to a water-body. Tigers for centuries have been using the narrow corridor on two sides of river Kosi to move from one forest range to another.
The last 30 years has witnessed its devastation with Sunderkhal settlement and a large number of hotels and resorted blocking the corridor. The tiger was just walking down the corridor genetically embedded in his memory but got scared and unusual creature (human being) on his path. Scared, he attacked him and killed the weaker animal.
Humans had to retaliate and got support from local political leaders and forest department for the same. Hundreds of officials and villagers searched the tiger on elephants and cornered him down one evening. Bullets were showered from all sides, leaving the tiger mutilated. And, there was joyful with triumph.
In similar circumstances another tiger was gunned down in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh, on demand of locals. Same story was also repeated in Maharashtra some years ago.
Of these states, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are going to polls.
Will someone ask questions from those in fray on behalf of tigers and elephants, who are voice-less in electoral politics. Or, the leaders will again promise to throw wildlife out of their land for sake of getting votes.