Sunday, June 13, 2010

Poachers in the train!

Simba is sad - With their paws selling for as less as Rs. 500, how many Simbas will ultimately grow up to rule the jungle?

Train Number - 2142
Journey - From Patna to Mumbai
Date - June 12th, 2010

The train is somewhere in the border area of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, (most probably in the territory of Maharashtra, although I am not 100% sure of it) when this hawker comes into my compartment S10. She is a lady, looks tribal, is obese and is carrying a home-made, dirty, cloth bag on her right shoulder and is trying to sell a white colour round object that she claims is the nabhi of the Kasturi Hiran (Musk Deer?). I have just woken up after my afternoon sleep in the Side Upper berth and am still sleepy. But the name of Kasturi Hiran is more than enough to jolt me back into the world of reality. I ask her to hand that over to me so that I could see it for myself.

The object is pale white, is very-very soft due to the fur that surrounds it and has a small dark spot on one side. And it does smell great.

Kahan se late ho ye sab? I ask the lady.

Jungle se chunte hain. Hiran ke pet se nabhi gir jaata hai. Wahi hum uthate hain aur bechate hain. She replies.

Hiran ko marate bhi ho iske liye?

Nahi. Jo gir jaata hai khud-ba-khud wahi uthate hain.

I remember hearing a number of childhood stories where Kasturi Hiran keeps running all over the Jungle in the search of the sweet smell that surrounds it, but is never able to find the source of it, which in fact lies not outside it, but inside. This is often compared to the search of man for God wherein he keeps looking all over the world, builds temples, mosques, churches, et all for the said purpose and wages bloody battles on those who follow religions different from his own, never realising the fact that God resides inside him and not outside.

But this is for the first time in my life that I am actually holding the body part of the said deer which is responsible for the restlessness of the beautiful creature.

The smell is so great that I am tempted to purchase one for myself. But I am not very sure of her claim that they just pick up those pieces that fall out naturally from its body and do not kill the animal in order to acquire it. Moreover, I am not sure whether the nabhi does fall naturally at all.

Thankfully, no one in my cubicle buys the stuff either.

But wait! The lady has other things to offer as well.

She fishes out a small plastic jar from her bag and offers nails of some animal to the public. She claims they are the nails of the lion cubs whom they catch in the jungle, take the nail out from the paw of the baby and then leave it alive. The object that she is offering for Rs. 500 a pair is a single small, very sharp nail covered by soft, brown fur and in order to actually touch the nail, you have to remove the fur that is surrounding it.

Suddenly all her claims about not killing the Kasturi Hiran to procure the nabhi seems dubious. After all, how can you simply catch a baby lion, take the nails out of its paws and leave it back in the jungle? What are the chances that the poor creature will survive the injury which is bound to get infected and cause greater harms to it especially at a time when its natural immunity is still not properly developed? And why only take the nails of the cub, when you can actually take the complete skin which will no doubt fetch you a far higher price in the black markets of the wild animal body parts? Why be so generous to the baby cub?

She persuades me to buy a pair which I refuse continuously. However, the man on the upper berth opposite to me seems interested and bargains on the price. I try to persuade him not to buy. I try to put across my point by saying that there are only around a thousand tigers left in India today and that we should not buy the body parts of wild animals and encourage their poaching. But he hears me not, goes ahead and buys a pair for just Rs. 50!

Ridiculous! What peanuts are we ready to kill non-human species for?

However, the whole incident did have a lesson for me. It showed how easy it is to write blogs and forward emails to your friends asking them not to buy stuff made of body parts of wild animals and how immensely difficult it is to persuade even a single man from actually buying it in the real world. Especially, when all that you have to pay for the prized possession is just Rs 50.

Going at this rate, how long will it be before we lose all our tigers and lions and other beautiful creatures for all times to come?


BullsEye said...

This is horrendous if true..But are you sure those were cub nails, seems suspicious..Anyways we know poaching is goin on rampantly for few bucks and it shud stop..But even I am clueless..How?

Abhishek Neel said...

No I am not sure whether the nails that were being sold were of the lion cub or not. In fact the jar that she was carrying the nails in contained a good number of nails (15-20 if not more) which indicates to the fact that may be she was telling a lie. But even then the whole incident does suggest how rampant poaching itself is. Common!! How can one sell animal body parts so openly in a place as public as a train??!! Moreover, the Kasturi Hiran thing is something I believe was not fake object due to the smell that it had.

Abhijit said...

Glad to see that you got to see one of the many faces of India. Most of the hiran things are fake...they roll it in fur and keep it submerged in scent for a few days....the smell goes away pretty soon (1-2 weeks)...And I'm not too sure about lion's nail...But even if true...that's the way life is...darwinism at it's core...Add to it the curse of illiteracy. People have overlooked nation's interest, community's interest over some short term gains.... And we are talking about animal rights ... One can dream like Tagore of a future utopian world...and may be we will reach there someday...but till then we will have to make do with this world- full of flaws as it may be. Nice writing...esp loved the analogy of we searching for God everywhere else...Keep it up!

Abhishek Neel said...

Hmmm .. as far as I am concerned, I think that the lion cub paws were fake while Hiran thing might have been right. The number of nails that she was carrying with herself seemed to suggest that she was lying about them. After all, there must be other people just like her out there and we simply do not have so many cubs left to supply so many nails to each one of them - simple logic of extrapolation of data. However, I this is what I suspect and may be completely wrong.

Purba said...

For her it'a just a means of living. With the few extra bucks she earns she will probably feed her children.

Does she care that we have only 1411 tigers remaining? The problem lies with our system, it's rotting, dying a slow death.

Anonymous said...

I read Purba's comments - the thing is they should see LIVE tigers and other animals as a means to income. Eco tourism might help. The cruelty of it all is heart breaking. When pulling out a baby tiger's claws is seen as the kinder option .... what does one say?

I am horrified and really saddened... I also saw stuffed squirrels being sold in Mahabalipuram (in 1995) - we have so much more to entertain and wear, endless options, why would someone still buy something like this?

Thanks for blogging about this...

Anonymous said...

A sad reality.. and more sad that there are sadist who take pleasure from it.. like the man who bought the nails. :(

Thanks for blogging about this..

Abhishek Neel said...

Thanks Miss Homemaker,

I also agree with what Purba has to say. But may be this is just an advantage of being at the top-most position in the natural food-chain, even though we humans seem to have started taking undue advantage of our this position.

Still .. that is cruel.

Dear Sadhogopal,

I am afraid we will always be having such people around. Remember, we are animals first and self-proclaimed ‘civilized’ animals later. By the way, sometimes I wonder who that self-obsessed guy was who invented the word ‘civilization.’ Just look at how we fight with each other – be the wars between nations, or religious riots or a simple street fight for that matter. I don’t think any other species has got the caliber to fight the way we do. And still, ironically, it is we who are the ‘civilized’ and not they.


The Dog.

Anonymous said...

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Abhishek Neel said...

Ohh .. is that so?


I never thought that anything I write here could be put to some practical use by someone! This comes as a pleasant surprise. Thanks.

But I guess you could tell me your name and what field of education you belong to. I would love to know that.


The Dog.

Aathira said...

I am shocked that it goes on in such an open manner. And, I wonder what that man would do with the baby lion nails, other than show it to maybe his kids!


Abhishek Neel said...

No. Actually when I tried to stop him from buying the nails, he said that he had some health problems which apparently could be cured by lion nails. As far as the kids are concerned, at least one of them was traveling with him in the train itself.

Disgusting indeed.

Nevin said...

Great post. You have a new follower