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Updated: July 2, 2012 16:25 IST

Wah, wah!

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Red panda. Photo: File Photo
The Hindu
Red panda. Photo: File Photo

Man writes to Aristotle apologising for the wanton destruction he has wreaked. But then, he is not all bad. He has tried to save the red panda.

Dear Aristotle,

It is with great sorrow I read letters from your mailbag. As a member of the species Homo sapiens, I have no answers, no justification for the harm we do to others on this planet.

Only after he has felled the last tree,

Only after he has eaten the last fish

And only after the last river has gone dry,

Will man realise he cannot eat money.

It is in shame and sorrow that I write this today. I apologise on behalf of my species, the Homo sapiens, that has caused wanton destruction of the earth and those who live on it.

I hope man understands that he is but a strand in the web of life on this planet; what he does to the web, he does to himself.

It isn’t all gloom though. Now and then, some people make great efforts to save the planet.

For example, take the case of the endangered Red panda species. Global wildlife organisations have started projects to save this incredibly gorgeous creature from extinction. I shall tell you a little about this animal; you will fall in love with it.

The Red panda is found in many countries of South-East Asia. In India, its habitat is the bamboo forest of the Eastern Himalayas at elevations of 1500-4000 m. The wildlife sanctuaries and national parks of Sikkim and West Bengal are home to this animal.

Does it look like the black and white giant panda? No, far from it! It looks more like its close cousin, the racoon, with white bands on its face, lush, reddish-brown fur and a long, velvety tail with six yellow-red rings on it. However, it is hard to get a glimpse of this fellow! For one reason, there are only a few left in the wild; for another, he is shy, arboreal and nocturnal. He spends his days just feeding on bamboo leaves and shoots or resting on tree-tops. Who would want to harm this docile, beautiful animal?

Though in nature it has predators like the snow leopard, man is its biggest enemy. He traps it for its fur; people wear Red panda fur caps with its tail hanging from the back! This soft, cuddly creature is captured for it makes an exotic pet. Moreover, its habitat is disappearing. Bamboo forests are often cleared for agriculture. Eco-tourism has been a double-edged sword. It brings in money but building of roads and hotels has led to the destruction of the forests.

Man has given this cute fellow a number of names — Red panda, ye, wah (from its loud bark “wah”), poonya (which has been corrupted to panda), bear-cat, cat-bear, Bright panda, Fire fox etc.

But can man give it a new lease on life? Would he get an appreciative “wah, wah” for his efforts?

Take care! There is still hope ahead.

Reply from Aristotle

Man, read these inspiring Native American sayings:

When you were born, You cried and the world rejoiced.

Live your life so that when you die, The world cries and you rejoice.

Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it.

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