We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts…
– William Hazlitt
Why risk the balance of the park ecosystem and the stability of the surrounding economy…for what? So that tiger could inhabit Sariska? The place was already a gem of an open and unspoiled area where hundreds roamed.
Why the tiger?
Because they are tiger, and if there is one animal that embodies all things wild, it is the tiger. If there is one animal that captures the human imagination more than any other, for better or for worse, it is the tiger. They are the creatures of our darkchildhood fables and the walking memory of our not so distant past when survival was a far more tenuous thing. They are fearsome hunters and devoted family members. They are loathed and loved in equal degrees of irrational passion. They are nature, and for that reason alone they are as necessary as the air we breathe. They are tigers, and they do not live for us but for themselves. They pay no mind to the hold they have on us or to our attempts to anthropomorphize them as devil or saint. They are what they are, and they go on about their tiger lives—hunting and playing, mating and denning, sleeping and roaring—in utter disregard of our curious eyes behind the binoculars.
Sariska needs the tiger because they’re tigers and we need nature the way tiger needs Sariska. Wild animal populations in Sariska hovers around the 15,000 figures with less than 0.2% could only be attributed to the majestic tigers.
What is a visit to Sariska without a glimpse of the majestic animal?
All the excitement of locating a tiger, took away the time. Occasional stoppage to glue to the dancing peacocks…was rare sights. Almost two hours had gone by. Legs were slightly skewed towards stiffness. Straightening, stretching and walking few meters…infused a sigh of relief. We splashed the cool water from the pipes…invigorating feeling.
It was time we had to leave the place quite before the dusk, as the gushing water has ruined large stretch of the road during the rains. We were entrenched in the all-embracing awning of wild trees driving fear with each passing minutes in dawning dusk. That didn’t disturb our scheduled imagination flight; I was already into a different flight. I realized that the journey was my destination.
I need to believe this, for it is how I know that the changes we inflict on the environment, intentional or otherwise, need not be irreversible. It is how I know that in the future we can find, again and again, as we must, this balance between “nature” and “civilization”. There are as per the last census around 10344 human beings in 24 villages in the core zone and 243667 human beings in 246 villages in the buffer zone of Sariska Reserve. There are around 35396 cattle in the core zone and 142998 cattle in the buffer zone as per the last census, and 15,000 odd wild animals in the Sariska Reserve. It is how I know that there will always be human habitant coexisting with wild space and wild life.
I have no cost-benefit analysis of the value of protected wild space like Sariska. I don’t pretend to. I believe in the necessity of wild animals for the same reasons I believe in the necessity of human habitants, and these reasons don’t fit so well in a cost-benefit-analysis world, but they are rationale that I cannot concede are without merit. It is a hard argument to make, for it leads with the heart and is too often dismissed by those who make more rational arguments.
It’s not easy to get up everyday, and do the balancing act, to logic it out and live. It’s hard, it’s always been hard. But, atleast during a journey that becomes your destination… There are animals better than us and there are tribals who are less fortunate. We all have different battles but it’s up to us to choose ours and fight in our ways, nature is no different.
It’s only a visit into the wild space of Sariska we can understand, the wonderfully evolved co-existence between human population and animal population, amidst the blossomed flora-fauna milieu of the Sariska…