Thursday, December 24, 2009


Once upon a time, oh best beloved, stalking the Bengal Tiger was the sport of princes and kings, who, full of respect for their noble prey, permitted the animal to acquire the prefix ‘Royal’. Thus the Tiger of South Asia became the greatly feared and respected Royal Bengal Tiger.

From its homeland in the vast Mangrove forests of the delta, dense, dark and fearful, the noble savage traveled to stalk the hills, the forests and the plains of the great Indian subcontinent. And sightings of the beast were often either the last its victims ever saw, or the last the tiger itself ever saw!

So famed was this Royal beast, that it aroused both fear and respect, and ambition in every man. From farmer to prince, from bureaucrat to Emperor, stalking the stalker , and making prey of the predator became agreat and noble sport and challenge.

Time passes, as it does for every living thing. Today, once again, the beast has had to fall back into the Mangrove Forest for its refuge as numbers of its enemies have multiplied, and their firepower more awesome.

For today’s traveler to be sure of seeing the Royal Bengal Tiger, Dhaka Zoo is the most certain! Across the whole subcontinent, it has slowly, but remorselessly been hunted close to extinction.

But the slow and steady disappearance is far from the last of its ignoble fates. A Google search reveals afar more humiliating phenomenon. Most of the top finds reveal that the Bengal Tiger has shrunk! It has become identified as a small domestic cat much favoured as a family pet in USA.

If only that were the last of the indignities now heaped upon the Royal beast! Deprived, not only of the recognition and respect of its Royal dignity, it now appears that, wherever India had set up parks to protect its population of tigers, it is referred to, simply, as an Indian Tiger.

No longer Royal, no longer a proud predator, and now no longer Bengali!

And that, my beloved, is how the Royal Bengal Tiger lost its stripes of rank. No more the prey of Kings, Emperors and Princes, but the pet shop prey of American housewives!

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