THERE WERE two momentous news items in the media recently regarding wildlife: One, the number of tigers in the country has gone up, and two, no less than the Prime Minister was taken around Corbett National Park by the renowned survivalist, Bear Grylls. Down in Jungleland (DIJ) conducted an interview with an official spokestiger regarding both these issues and some more. Excerpts:
DIJ: Congratulations — you guys have really scored well in these last few years. It just shows that all those gloom and doom stories being peddled by the media (present company excluded, of course) were baseless.Your comment?
Tiger: Just remember, there are 1.3 billion of you — our most dangerous enemy — pitted against maybe 3,000 of us maximum. You figure the odds. Each one of us has to deal with 3,33,333.333 of you. No tiger can eat so much, even if it were born and brought up at McDonald’s.
DIJ: Surely, things are better than what they used to be?
Tiger: Keep in mind that in the old days, you guys used to be far better behaved with us: villagers collecting firewood would quietly walk past us, no one had hysterics. Nowadays, you spot us in a sugarcane field and organize lynch mobs!
DIJ: Ha, ha! Actually ,we organise lynch mobs for ourselves, too. So, what did you think of the PM’s visit to Corbett National Park, with Mr Bear Grylls?
Tiger: (With an explosive snort) Did you know of the kind of vetting that happened before this trip? Every animal that got a NaMo-BG visa had to have a proper background check. Had they had any violent interactions with human beings before? Had they, god forbid, eaten a human being before? Had they trampled on, or gored or simply chased a human being before? Were they vegetarian? (Carnivores were advised to go on a vegetarian diet for the period of the visit so as not to upset VIP sentiments). Had they been vaccinated against rabies, parvovirus, etc? Did they have medical certificates from AIIMS decreeing they were tuberculosis, anthrax, rinderpest free? Was their dung and urine sanitised and sterilised and vacuum-sealed in cling-film after being deposited, because Mr Grylls had a reputation for doing unusual things with the stuff? Did they have documents to prove they were authentic inhabitants of Corbett — and had lived there since Jim Corbett’s time? Did they have Aadhaar cards? The PM’s security had decreed that no animal was permitted to roar, growl, snarl, suddenly trumpet or bare its teeth — or lower its horns — at or towards the VIP visitors. They were welcome to bring their babies along, provided they were potty-trained. Animals had to produce a sworn affidavit to this effect.
DIJ: So did you personally meet the PM and Mr Grylls?
Tiger: Yes. And I had only one question for him…
DIJ: Which was?
Tiger: Why are there no tigers in Gujarat? The sole tiger — a vagrant that wandered into the state in 2018 — I think soon died.
DIJ: What did he say?
Tiger: He said they had lions, so why did they need tigers? And that’s why they didn’t want their lions to go anywhere else…
DIJ: It is being suggested in certain quarters that maybe the lion should be our national animal. Your comment?
Tiger: I, actually, agree. You fellows are just like them: you spend most of your time sleeping or goofing off or harassing women or looking for a hairdresser. You demand that your womenfolk bring you food. You don’t help with the cubs. Look at us: Our women rear the cubs, yes, but we have started helping them in that, too (especially after they get shot by poachers), by taking the bachchas for a swim and teaching them to hunt and so on. We mostly hunt our own food…
DIJ: Still, things seem to be looking up for your species. What more do you think could be done?
Tiger: Leave us alone! Get out of our hair — and more importantly, our forests. You bulldoze these massive expressways through our areas and drive like maniacs. You like damming rivers and flooding our best forest resorts. When you visit us in Tiger Reserves and National Parks, you surround us with your Gypsies and gawk and scatter empty gutka packets everywhere: Can you imagine what would happen if 50 of us peered into your bedroom window one night and growled? You’d have to change your sheets right away.
DIJ: A personal question, now. How many cubs have you had in the last couple of years?
Tiger: (bristling with pride). The last litter the missus had was of four cubs: All gorgeous daughters. They’re growing up so fast, learning so quickly…
DIJ: Congratulations! So good to know you’ve taken this “beti-bachao, beti-padhao” decree to heart!
Tiger: Well, if they had been boys it would have been, “gadha-bachao, gadha-padhao” wouldn’t it?