I have always believed in the fact that one should not reject an idea or opinion just because you don’t like the mouth. Hence when someone “great in wildlife ” gives idea and suggestions, I do lend my ear.
However, I also believe that such opinions take a toll on the awareness amongst layman. Many people complain about forest department inefficiency in managing the forests. The forest department or the people working in close association with the forest department lacks one thing tremendously for sure, outreach and opinions. I read one article long time back that Amitabh Bachchan is the most popular star even in his fading acting years because he reaches out to people. Not only he keeps a track of events going in the current environment, but he lets other people take a sneak peek into his life also hence people, young or old, feel connected. How did he master this art when many of his contemporaries and many powerful leaders inspite of being on twitter all the time couldn’t get a genuine understanding of people?
The history of forest management dates back to the Mauryan empire. Before that yes in our religious texts the reverence towards the forest and its inhabitants were there. But can one conserve what we reverend? If so was the case then snakes must not have been under threat or for that matter the harmless sarus crane. The forest management of Indian resources use must have been in the mind of the British who brought many “management plan” across India. Still, we can’t rule out the contributions of many Englishmen who highlighted and protected our parks like F.W Champion who would do his duties to show off the forest for hunting of tiger yet would deliberately avoid areas of tiger existence. Probably Valley of flowers would have been unknown to us had it not been for a foreigner. Yet management of forest comes with a legacy to the Indian Forest Services and hence the increase in areas under protected areas (PA) is a contribution of the Services only. The politicians have their own agendas every year. All our honorable prime ministers have contributed to Indian wildlife conservation in someway or other apart from the supreme support provided by Mrs Indira Gandhi but yes , for most of them natural heritage conservation is not the primary agenda. But if India has increased tiger reserve number to 50, guess we are doing our bit in bringing the forest under priority flag. Many people out of the ego and their vested interest would not accept the increase in tiger number a thing to applaud, Agreed. But a well thought design of umbrella species -habitat conservation and to protect the forest by declaring it tiger reserve is contributing in its own big way.
I believe appreciating what we have and contributing, engaging in the betterment of the science and species should be our criterion. I attended a meet in which panel was to discuss the loopholes between the functioning of two major giants in wildlife conservation: the bureaucrat and the scientific community. it seems management and the scientific community is always at loggerheads when they should be joining hands. As a third party, I could see that they were unable to conclude anything on the panel itself! This is sad. No one can deny that for the best management of a protected area the two hands should meet. Even the activist and NGO’s who think about saving the wilderness should be together with science and management. Throwing stones at each other and stating as if it was in my hand I would have done the job better and differently is a very wrong logic.
Coming back to the mouth I referred to in beginning. In a well-read newspaper his article came and while reading it I realized its an idea with many loopholes. However, when an activist or researcher speaks anything in media, a big onus of the general awareness of the public lies in Him/Her. Bureaucrat mostly refrains from the statement because they represent an institution and are answerable to many people. But a famous activist says and if His/Her idea and statement (no matter he/she is stating if without a well thought discussion with the panel of specialist or with a backing of science) has a much greater impact on the community. This tilt towards a human is not a loss in anyone’s eyes as he/she will get money and popularity benefits. But it gives a major setback to the efforts of people working in conservation with very meager salary.
Management, science and activism need to come together but not for their own individual benefit. For the benefit of fast depleting forests.For the love of trees and its essence come together!