The Indian forests have changed a lot from the life and times of Mowgli and the irony couldn’t have been starker. In what seems a modern adaptation of the famed Jungle Book, this tale of a female sloth bear is more heart wrenching than the movies featuring such story lines for this still awaits a happy ending.
Rama Singh Munda (member of the indigenous tribe) from Ruitisila village in Orissa’s Keonjhar district, about 225 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, gave shelter to female sloth bear Rani when she followed him home and was 2-3 days old. The bear would have met a certain death at the hands of predators had she not followed Rama. The family christened her as ‘Rani’ and she was the loved new member of the family. The family which was bereaving the loss of Rama’s wife discovered a reason to smile.
The 5 year old daughter of Rama, Dulki found a companion to play with. The family used to share their meals with Rani, Rama even used to take her for joyrides on cycle and all through the time they never used new her for any commercial purposes nor did they caused any harm to the furry animal.
However the euphoria of the girl and bear was short-lived as the news reached media circles and the officers took away the bear (only on second attempt as Rani had escaped to forest during the first raid. However the bear returned to her only home later in the day where they darted her and took her to the zoo) Rama was held captive in the jail for breaching the law and keeping a sloth bear at home.
It can only happen in factual realms that an innocent tribal who has been keeping the bear for over a year with affection and care was arrested and put behind bars. We have heard time and again about the pitiful state of zoos in India, the conditions at Nandankanan Zoo are no better. How judicious a decision it was on the part of officials to send Rama to jail and Rani to an unkempt cage? Solomon would be deranged in heavens.
The man is now set free but then who cares about the family…the feelings of the bear who found herself in a cage without her family? The court of law, the animal activists, the NGOs must see at affairs from an animal’s viewpoint too. What good are animal laws if they fail to serve the animals?
Motherless Dulki never knew any Archies teddy bear, for her only buddy was her furry friend with animation.
Dear Bear, the fiction lore of Rudyard Kipling was better than the realism and Rama you’d always remain our Teddy bear man!