Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Callous tourism

My visits to the jungles are pilgrimages and like an other devout pilgrim I get annoyed when I see things that should not happen. This weekend in Bandipur was a bit of a shock. Shruthi noticed a hobbling chital doe and we were very upset by what we saw.

The poor creature had a hoof entangled in an empty ice-cream container, obviously thrown by a callous tourist. The animal was in obvious discomfort because it was nuzzling the hoof and shaking it every few steps. The offending piece of plastic wouldn't budge.

My four year old Skanda made a profound observation. He said that a tiger would get the doe because it could not move fast. Whether the doe's fate lies in some carnivore's hunting plan we'll never know but I hope and pray otherwise.

Why should we promote tourism in sensitive areas when most of us are so insensitive? We put up boards banning plastic in national parks but allow its sale without proper monitoring. Who is resposible; the careless tourist, the callous vendor or the caretakers of India's forests?