As the maddening congeners of Jan Lokpal bill swarmed the streets of the capital and the saintly ‘Anna' continues his heroic fast unto death campaign against corruption, I realized what if- what if we have a conservationist Anna.
You might question, why Environment? Is it pertinent today to ask for the conservation and protection of the last remaining natural habitats, the wild animals that roamed there and the unbounding array of flora; when we have a billion tongues to feed and the not-so-hungry have lavished themselves to grab more of what they already have - Resources. Does it really matter whether a species as common as a ‘Rhesus macaque' or a vermint ‘Desert rat' survive when the common man has already lost his rights of entry to these forests and all he can do is lop a few branches around his settlement and often criminalized if he dare move into the sanctum sanctorum of the forest reserve?
In today's conservation crisis, where, ‘Numbers' dominate over ‘Ecological integrity', ‘Development' out-takes ‘Conservation' and the already alienated common man is pushed further away from the last remnants of his natal footholds, I cannot help but find an increasing need to have a conservationist Anna. Where lopsided arguments and quasi interest lobby groups, chaired by arm-chair environmentalists dogmatized concepts as fundamental, prudent and necessary as averting climate change to documenting the very basic natural heritage of our country, where the highly aristocratic and bureaucratic Forest department is lacking the zeal and passion to work out charters for scientific and modern ways to conserve species, and the various NGO's battle over power and impact to have maximum imprints on the crowd, rather than focusing on their objective, and the scientific community/naturalists study species and communities for the eventual publication of their work in reputed journals having high impact factor!
Is the ideology of Anna Hazare impacting the core setup of the heavily corrupt laden state which he targeted? If we were to have an Anna for conservation, he would have to tackle them from the grassroots. The middle class, who have been deeply involved in this campaign and the private entrepreneurs, who have been laden with their own self-interests join in the march, it would be worthwhile if the conservationist Anna could do the same. This strong, wealthy and poisterous level of society, who venture into our wild lands as ‘tourists' or set up numerous hotels in and around our protected areas, could be instilled on ideas as to why ethics alone do not save the endangered wildlife, that what they see in the comforts of their home the beautiful, serene wild jungles and the seemingly ‘funny', ‘cute' animals they picturise are in fact terrorizing the local settlers out there, haunting their midnight sleep and depredate their livestock and in many cases, even battle for their own safety!
So what should a Conservtionist Anna achieve? Perhaps he might be able to instill values, both ethical and real, extended to eventual practice in the forest itself on us, we the local populace. His advocacy might lead to increased and active participation of common man towards reserve protection and management leading to better Ecodevelopment and Participatory Planning regimes. Informed decisions which so often is a caveat in the undertakings of forest department might become more pertinent and true. Front line staff, the torchbearers of conservation today might someday be actually in the limelight and appreciated for their continuing sacrifices that they rendered. The people, especially the urban dwellers might actually picturise animals not only from their emotional and superfluous conservation ethic to a more pertinent, realistic having an actual ground impact in the field.
As the global extinction rate of species continues at an alarming rate unabated, and the conflict between people and park increasingly aggrevates, what if we have an ‘Anna' who will teach us gently that man is just a tiny fabric in the web of life, and what he does to others would eventually affect his own existence, as was said by the Red Indian Chief, more than a century ago...