What ails Kaziranga? Episode – I

One-horned Rhinoceros at Agoratoli, Kaziranga

In today’s world, conservation has turned into an event played out in the media rather than a being a process. Nothing highlights this scenario better than the death of an unfortunate rhino in the hands of poachers. Recently a TV reporter claimed rather proudly that he is seriously into conservation. When quizzed about his initiatives, he shot back with incredulity written all over his face “HAVEN’T YOU SEEN ME ON TV?”

In the rat race to be visible in the media, the real issues confronting Kaziranga National Park are constantly brushed under the carpet. The milieu that ensures, opens up a profitable avenue for a few self-styled experts and multinational NGO’s. They promptly hijack the issue by engaging in technical semantics to show off their suspect intellect. With stupendous zeal, they work overtime to organize seminars ostensibly to discuss the issue. The outcome of such seminars in five-star hotels would unfailingly be the same. The decision would be to undertake a study tour to learn more about rhino conservation.

Thus the death of an unfortunate rhino turns into an enormous cash churner and an opportunity for many to globe trot on the pretext of study tours. Try as much as I did, I haven’t been able to phrase a better term to describe these people, other than terming them as Glorified Beggars.

The unsolicited and ill-informed intervention of these glorified beggars relating to matters of Kaziranga has spelled doom for this place. And the matter is all the more accentuated by a few high ranking Forest Officials, who patronize them. As a result, these forces (flush with overseas funds) have adroitly maneuvered the Forest Department’s policies over the last decade to ensure that this goldmine is and will always be there’s for eternity. One needs to understand here that overseas funds will continue to pour in only if there is a crisis.

There can’t be a better place and opportunity than the world heritage site of Kaziranga to continue to earn a livelihood by highlighting, or at times even engineering a crisis? Shedding a few crocodile tears in the event of a crisis, appearing on a few talk shows and being active in social media, is all that it takes for these people. They regain their premium position as the custodians of our forests to engage in further loot with renewed vigor.

To be continued…

Bhaskar J Barua

Wildlife Photographer and Conservationist, Agoratoli Resort
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