My Dear Dæmon...
written by: Nishand Venugopal
I recently saw a very disturbing footage of people thrashing a leopard as it was attacking people. I can understand the feeling of the people... men, when they are in mass, incited about some danger about to affect their community don't even spare a fellow human being so that leopard, unfortunately, became a victim of this fear psychosis. Definitely, it had mauled people but we must also understand it is a power struggle for land. Once it was a jungle with lots of prey for the leopard but as human interference extends they were sidelined, their prey base poached and also they lost their cover. I have been reading a lot about the recent human-animal conflicts thanks to efforts and books like 'The Vanishing' by Prerna Singh Bindra and 'Born Wild' by Swati Thiyagarajan which give a detail description of the real status of leopards in India. Then I saw this leopard in Delhi Zoo perhaps, enjoying the warmth of the sun during the winter season. My intention is to make you feel for him as you look into my picture. It is his eyes that you can see the question WHY? and the answer lies in our hearts. All that we have to do is to connect with them and never dismiss them as cruel beings as they are pictured and viewed by an always sensation-hungry media. Leopards have no fan base like their mighty cousins The Tiger and The Lion and always associated with something treacherous though they are smarter, and adapt very well to their circumstances. Sometimes I feel the leopard and the snake share the same fate, both live in proximity to human settlements, while snakes control the pests and rodents in the farm, leopards keep the ungulates at bay that may cause harm to agriculture near the forest. So both have been helping mankind but when they cross paths with humans chaos breaks out. For leopards, the loss of prey base leads to the killing of domesticated animals and some, unfortunately, turns into injuring or killing human beings. It is true that our city dwellers lifestyle affects the living of people and animals near the forest. Now it is time to make conscious decisions that will create positive ripples in their lives. The action has to begin with us. In Philip Pullman's trilogy, 'His Dark Materials', there is a parallel world where human beings co-exist with their animal counterparts who are known as dæmons. I wish if I had my dæmon it would be a leopard as they are enigmatic, graceful, and very adaptive to the given circumstances. I wish my dear dæmon live longer than me.