Cecil has proved to be a martyr for conservation it seems. After his unfortunate “game hunting” death , a lot of furore arose worldwide. This resulted in questioning of game hunting/trophy killing, banning of game trophies by US airlines http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/03/delta-bans-hunting-trophies-cecil-the-lion, and series of petitions. It has resulted positively for conservation as a study conducted by NG and Ipsos showed that 70 % of people who knew about Cecil death contributed to awareness of campaign by some or the other means. The study also showed that 41% of the people knew that lion and other Big cats are in grave danger and are fast declining. Cecil was being studied by oxford university since 1999 though the funding of the study seems controversial with new evidences http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/596213/Cecil-the-lion-Oxford-University-pro-hunting-money-research .
Globally, cases like this when surfaces the main question comes are economy vs ethics. If we narrow it down to our country, India, the question is not of ethics as much as it is of everyday livelihood/development for human’s vs conservation of “dangerous” animals. Probably many people still believe that animals who can kill humans or who LOOK like they can kill should not be living amongst us and probably many others are not even bothered of animals which are not in their backyard (though nationwide survey is lacking on this front). But we can talk about conservation by putting ourselves in others shoes which mostly doesn’t fit us completely. Though in current scenario India is investing a lot on environment and wildlife (Rs.1,681.60 crore in 2015-16), but it is not seeming to be enough for the upliftment of this essential field. How much should we invest in research and come up with number (coz number do lie) when we are fast loosing on wildlife and environment? We talk about small population of people pouring domestic waste in rivers but do not stop large number of industries from pouring the effluents in the same. We talk about less poaching of animals when we are leaving no suitable habitat for the animals to survive. We talk about animals being declared vermin when we leave no natural control for these overpopulated animals in ecosystem.
India has to seriously think about conservation in a logical framework. Conserving without border should be a starting point. If we have to spend more than a decade to translocate Asiatic Lion from one state to another, then I guess something is seriously wrong, Forests are continuous which is profitable to large ranging animals and that’s how it should be maintained. Instead of maintaining forest as fortress we have to think site specific management but prioritizing areas nationally. A tiger reserve in which we have already invested for many years and is now doing good for itself should not be our focus, but the ones which we are fast loosing on no expertise ground. Also we need to question ourselves about ethics in conservation. We find it hard to tolerate monkey in our garden and leopard in our backyard but we want tiger in sunderban, lions in Gujarat, elephants in Western Ghats and leopard in rudraprayag. I can’t say that i cant kill a bear or a tiger if I am not the one whose child is hungry for days as the carnivore killed the livestock. In Cecil’s case it was money being more important than animal’s life but in our country it is more of “left with no other option”. We are working on mitigating human animal conflict by providing alternate livelihood to people dependent on the forests, but firstly there are not so many livelihood, secondly one accident against humans and animal suffers because of human anger and thirdly guess we are just trying to break a mountain by a nail. We might be loosing many Cecil in India but it is going unnoticed. Probably we should target some other group for mitigating the loss of animals rather than providing simple livelihood alternative to some. Success will come if we think nationally and act site specifically.
And then as Bapu has said “there is for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed”!