Leopard visits Bangalore School

 

‘Leopard sighted in a school in East Bengaluru’- screeched the headlines.It was high drama with the local TV crew in full attendance to capture the event.Schools in the neighborhood declared a holiday.Even after the leopard was caught,there were rumors of spotting leopards in nearby areas.Out of fear,schools extended their holiday for about a week.Had it not been for real,nobody would have thought of schools in the metro closing their doors for a leopard.

I am reminded of a nursery rhyme -Teddy Bear goes to School.

The poem goes like this-
“Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Polish the shoes.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Off to school”

Only difference is that,instead of the cuddly teddy bear,it was a dangerous leopard which went to school.
Not that every day a leopard visits a school,that too in the heart of a teeming metropolis.

My little one was excited on hearing the news about the leopard.He was full of questions.Why did the leopard chose to come to a school?What did it do in the school?

Had a tough time explaining that the leopard did not come to school out of any academic inclination!.
Worst,the leopard would not have known that the place it chose to prowl was a school.I am sure it had no idea of homework,class tests,monthly tests and so on.Else,it wouldn’t have chosen to come to a school.

The whole sequence of events looks like straight out of a comic story book for kids.If I had been a children’s’ writer,I would have definitely come up with a story about a Leopard going to school to learn ‘ABCD’. After all,Jataka tales and Panchatantra stories base their teachings on animals.What better way to teach impressionable kids than using animals.When kids are very young,their vocabulary is limited and they relate more to animals which cannot talk the human language.Inculcating moral values in kids using animals as role models was an ideal technique which our ancestors adopted.

Leopards roaming the streets of Bangalore,has given rise to numerous jokes on social platforms.Leaving the jokes apart,it is a serious matter and requires the attention of environmentalists,governments,conservationists and urban town planners.Have we encroached deep into leopard territory?.
It is not the first time we are hearing of such man-animal conflicts.
Tigers attacking villages on forest periphery,elephants destroying agricultural crops,monkeys creating nuisance to apartment dwellers..there are many instances of such happenings.

To add to the forest department officials’ woes,the latest news is that the captured leopard escaped from captivity.How did it manage to go free from a closed cage?Are the cages so weak or was the animal so brilliant enough to open it and escape.Or was it that the officials were so slack that they did not lock it properly.Whatever the reason,it is cause for further headache and tension.

For the safety of our environment and ourselves,it is necessary that we have clear instructions on how to deal with man-animal conflicts.Better still,our cities and conservation efforts should be planned in such a way that such conflicts do not arise,or are kept to a minimum.

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