Wildbuzz:Fling with lovely blonde singes king of Singhs!

  • Vikram Jit Singh, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Oct 18, 2015 09:02 IST


Irrepressible animal rights activist, Naresh Kadyan, who nabbed the late Mansoor Ali Khan Tiger Pataudi in the 2005 Black buck poaching case, has now trained his guns on actor Akshay Kumar’s latest release, ‘Singh is Bling’. Kadyan wrote on October 16 to the Union ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) against Bollywood’s lion king or the actor better known as ‘Singh is King’! The issue: why is Akshay having a good time with a lovely blonde! Oops, that is a lion, whose exhibition or display as performing animals is banned in films by an MOEF gazette notification of 2011.

Akshay, who also shot at the Chhatbir zoo feeding Emus for ‘Singh is Bling’, recalls that the handsome lion, named, Mufasa, by its handler, was actually a South African specimen and the filming took place in Cape Town. Akshay said he was shit scared during the shoot, the lion broke a glass mistaking his own reflection for a rival’s, and that the only safeguard was that it was well fed before the action!

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has been accused in Kadyan’s complaint for letting the film pass muster. However, the AWBI’s assistant secretary, S Vinod Kumar, clarified the legal position: “The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), 1960, covers only animals of India. Since the lion was a South African one, we cannot invoke the law. However, we had written to the Union ministry of information and broadcasting (MoIB) to include animals filmed outside India under the purview of film certification. In response and accepting our plea, MoIB’s under secretary S Naganathan has, in a letter on September 23, directed the CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to amend the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983, as the PCAA, 1960, appears to be applicable to all categories of films, including ones which are shot in foreign countries. Till such time as the desired amendment is effected, films can display animals from outside India.’’


A lizard exits from its Ganesha home. (PHOTO: VIKRAM JIT SINGH)

Mellowing sunshine and chilly mornings augur autumnal changes. But for me, personally, approaching winter is the fact of seeing fewer and fewer house lizards (geckos) or ceiling spooks! Until one fine cold morning, when all would have vanished into the walls for hibernation. Since 1989, a fortuitous and exquisite piece of wall sculpture has served as a favoured lizzie getaway and winter sanctuary in our drawing room. This is a wooden Ganesha, a creation by Padma Vibhushan awardee Satish Gujral sculpted specially as a gift for my late father’s birthday that year.

The Ganesha lends itself not to patronage of mythological rodents but to lizards familiar with the numerous caverns and folds among the artwork of its trunk and head. Generations of lizzies have bred in this Ganesha, akin to a mouldy haveli of old Delhi. Whenever the maid or the womenfolk in my family get flustered over lizards and adopt hot pursuit armed with longish brooms and blood-curdling shrieks, the Ganesha is always there to mysteriously swallow the terrified lizzies. It is next to impossible to ferret out a lizard from its folds once the creature has nosed deftly into its lady-proof bunkers! Anyway, ladies do entertain lurking, unfounded fears of the cornered lizzies bursting out, jumping for their noses, clinging on, and delivering a lethal bite. And, that restrains ladies from crossing the LoC!

The lizzies do pepper the Ganesha with their droppings and I wonder what Gujral may himself think of lizards freely inhabiting the intimacy of his creation! But for all the household hullabaloo over their perceived ‘ugliness’ and ‘danger’ posed by them, these are really non-venomous bio-agents or adversaries of cockroaches, mosquitoes and insects. May long live Ganesha and his family of Lizzie Rams, Gecko Ghulams, Lizy Singhs and Liz Taylors.


Floods of 2013 that wrecked the Sirheni dam. (PHOTO: Communications & Marketing Department, KNP)

With the passage of time, sensitive and well-informed wildlife managers tend to review earlier actions and sworn policies. An educative illustration of such a vision comes from South Africa’s iconic Kruger National Park (KNP) where authorities are planning to blow up the Sirheni dam wall between October 19 and 23 with the help of the armed forces. The dam was damaged beyond repair during the 2013 floods. Sirheni had originally created an artificial water body aimed at wildlife’s benefit, but over the years, it has proved otherwise.

In a media statement emailed to this writer by KNP’s general manager (communications and marketing) William Mabasa, the rationale was demarcated thus: “Artificial waterholes where water did not naturally occur previously have led to numerous ecological problems such as erosion and other environmental degradation. This also resulted in undesirable consequences for rare herbivore species such as Roan and Sable antelope, increasing grazing competition by more abundant herbivores. Conservation management has taken steps to rectify these consequences by closing and demolishing certain artificial water points.

These will be replaced by naturally occurring waterholes in the area where possible, and where such ecological consequences are not likely. With continuous research data at our disposal, we have gradually changed our outlook on biodiversity management.” KNP has been closing redundant artificial water points for the past eight years.


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