Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Creature Discomfort

Animals or People

In the spring of 2003 about 8,000 tribal people and low-caste farmers living in the Kuno area of Madhya Pradesh, India, were summarily uprooted from the rich farmlands they had cultivated for generations and moved to 24 villages on scrub land outside the borders of a sanctuary created for a pride of six imported Asiatic lions. “I’ll never forget when we left,” recalled village headman Babulal Gaur. “Even the men cried that day. Is it fair to do this to 1,600 families for a few lions?” By then almost 500 villages occupied by a total of 300,000 families around India had experienced similar forced relocation to protect the habitat of tigers, rhinos and Asiatic lions residing in the 580 national parks and sanctuaries that have been created in India since the colonial period.

It makes me realize how lucky we are in the U.S. that the American Indians wiped out most of the megafauna here before we arrived. Could you evict half of upstate Maine to set up a preserve for the woolly mammoth?