Four species of animals, nilgai, wild boar, rhesus macaque and the elephant have recently been declared “vermin”, joining the ranks of rats, cockroaches and bandicoots. Down in Jungleland has obtained access to chargesheets against them by the authorities concerned, which neither confirm nor deny this. The charges are as follows:
Nilgai (Boselaphus Tragocamelus)
Instead of generously sharing your protected forests and sanctuaries, and grazing grounds with lakhs of malnourished cows (which are holy), buffalo and goats which eat everything in sight, you take the law into your own hands and jump over 10-foot-high electrified fences, to lay waste rich fields of phasal. In addition, you have fraudulently promoted the canard that you are “cows”, because of the gai in your name, when it is scientifically proven that you are actually an antelope, belonging to the same disreputable gharana as the blackbuck.
Now that there are not enough tigers, leopards and wolves to take you down, you are shamelessly breeding like rabbits. Your smart grey suits and goatees, the golden coats of your ladies and their gentle eyes fool no one. You are rapacious crop-raiders and devour them in much the same manner as fine, high-society people at a five-star buffet dinner they are not paying for.
Wild Boar (Sus Scrofa)
The “scrofa” part of your name seems to come from “scruffy” and that is a perfect description of you. You are hirsute, ugly and bristly, and yet, you dare saunter around at 40 kmph with a cheeky smirk on your face, tossing your dirty yellow tush at one and all. In alliance with your extended family, you dig up fields for roots, tubers, yams and sweet potatoes, like a battalion of JCBs excavating diamonds or coal in a national park, leaving them in much the same condition. If challenged, you charge full speed and mash up your victim, like a vehicle driven by a drunken teenager flattening a pedestrian. You wallow in mud and your cousins in the city can be found in gutters, grunting and snorting. You have far too many babies. Kindly keep in mind that there are now thousands of fast food and fine-dining outlets across the country, offering bacon sandwiches, ham and cheese pizzas and braised pork chops, and even suckling pig. So you may like yams, but remember, you are yum-yum, too.
Rhesus macaque (Macaca Mulatta)
You have turned on the hands that fed you. God-fearing folk offered you bananas and papayas in the hope that good fortune would smile upon them, and all their crimes and sins be forgotten. They threw ghee-soaked parantha parties for you in parks, lovingly calling aao-aaao-aaao to you as if they were looking (and longing) for long-lost lovers. Some even stopped their vehicles in the middle of the road to offer you gifts of exotic fruits like kiwi, and caused multiple pile-ups in the process. But you snatched the largesse from their hands and then went around biting their babies, pulling the dupattas of their pretty young daughters, and raiding their litchee and mango orchards, like the hordes of Genghis Khan.
You invade our towns, rob markets, tear up the seats of two-wheelers, dent the roofs of cars, yank off their antennae, inspect your faces in rear-view mirrors before ripping them off because they tell the truth about how fat and ugly you are, and you can’t face that. You enter kitchens, ransack fridges, leave water taps running and attempt to lynch anyone who tries to stop you. You have even attempted to invade the seat of our democracy, drawn perhaps by the racket within. All this, in spite of kind people feeding you every day so that you no longer have (or know how) to forage in the trees for yourselves as your ancestors did. The complete list of your crimes against humanity would fill at least 5,000 pages, so nothing more need be said here.
Elephant (Elephas Maximus)
We surrounded your patches of jungle with modern roads, houses, factories and other developments, and what do you do? You come out charging — instead of taking the bus to wherever you want to go on your annual migrations, you try to overturn them. You steal into villages at night (even in states where prohibition is in force) and head straight for the adda where tharra or country liquor is served. Instead of sharing your grievances with the bartender, you try trampling him and everyone else, get dead drunk and go on a rampage through the village, levelling everything in sight. We train you to walk in stately processions along with us, in the streets, during festivals, as crowds cheer. We dress you in finery, beat a thousand tin drums in your ears, surround you with chaos, burst firecrackers at your feet, adorn you with garlands, put jewels in your tusks, and make you feel grand. And you run amok and start throwing motorcycles around! At other places, your wild cousins rumble into tea gardens, coffee estates and paddy fields, leaving destruction in their wake. Sorry, but wild untamed vehicles of mass destruction like yourselves cannot be allowed a free pass and must be taken out where necessary.
Note: Readers will be relieved to know that no charges have been levied, or culling order issued, for motor vehicles which account for 400 people (a Jumbo Jet full) every day.
Ranjit Lal is an author, environmentalist and birdwatcher