The Jungle Gypsy

THE BRIEF

‘Argus’, Greek for ‘watchful’, was 17 when he first laid eyes on a snow leopard in the Himalayas. On hearing it is endangered, he resolved to pull out all stops to safeguard species falling under the same league.

Now 32, this ranger roves from one natural park to the next, doing all he can, as a naturalist, to make the Earth a safer place for animals.

Alert, aware and learning every day, Argus, documents his glimpses into the spectacular landscape of wildlife across the world.

The Story
In a desperately developed world, forests are a fairy tale. It is no surprise then that enchanting stories of flora and fauna and our wonderful albeit troubled earth come from it.
The urbanized, homogenized, concrete land we live on now is what we borrowed from the jungle.
We often forget there’s no overdraft facility here. One Earth is all we have. And while we can’t keep renting what we can’t repay or couldn’t care less to, we do.

Some parts of the Earth still breathe. Mercifully.
With jungles for lungs, our planet still has places to call its own.
Argus lives in the parts we haven’t scrounged.
Although threatened with human intervention, the forestland that remains is still fortunately free.
Unless we keep it that way, there will come a day when it will only live in Argus’ journal – records of movements and motives and mere moments from the natural world.

They must be kept; preserved for the generations of the future that we have borrowed this earth from.
Heck, the future must continue to have moments like these and more!
The endangered should be helped, cared for and saved.
The disappearing numbers of fascinating species must be revived.
Nature should have its place; pride of place on this planet.

We’ve known these ‘must’s and ‘should’s for a while. But passivity is an easier proposition.
What does it mean to us if a tiger lounges regally in a pond or a hippo lazes sleepily in another one?
What does it mean to us if a bald eagle miraculously appears or a peregrine falcon disappears?
What does it mean to us if a panther peeps from some dense undergrowth or a grizzly bear finds and feeds on fish that it painstakingly plotted to prey on?
And what will it ever mean to us if the marlin meets the same fate as the mammoth?

Well, while we don’t notice, the world will lose many things of beauty and variety and possibility.
Perhaps, when their worth does dawn on us, dusk may have fallen on them.

Stories that were possible in the present will become stories of the past. And therefore, tragedies.
In his journal, Argus makes stories of sights. Sights that may elude us or intensify depending upon our response to the challenges of and regard for the environment.
When you rove about the jungles of the Earth,
a heightened awareness;
a refreshing humility;
a deeper sense of gratitude fills you.
Of, from and for the bounty of nature.
May Argus rub off on us all.
May his SHOUT! reach more ears than the earth’s cries for help so far have.
May this jungle book become the bible that stops us from sinning against fellow beings – to whom this earth belongs just as much or more.
Sometimes, it takes a gypsy in a gypsy to look through a pair of binoculars or the lens of a camera or the thicket of a shrub, right into the wild and make what he sees stay.
For eternity.
In a story. As a memory, saved for posterity.
Or in reality. A reversal of imminent tragedy.

Podcast: The Jungle Gypsy

Note Six

Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India. May, 2005 The very teeth of a tigress holding her cub tenderly are the same that ferociously devour her prey. I saw...

NOTE FIVE

Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India. May, 2005   A wrestling match. In the wild. Two strapping, fully grown, male tigers battling for territorial supremacy. The Tiger is usually pictured...

NOTE FOUR

Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India. April, 2005 Two young male Tiger siblings sparring. It looks fun. But it’s quite disciplined. No blood is ever drawn. They knock...

NOTE THREE

Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India. March, 2005 The tantalizing sight of something very special: Cubs, just 10 days old. Rare as hen’s teeth! For their first six weeks,...

NOTE TWO

Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India. February, 2005   “She was gorgeous. The most stunning thing I’ve ever seen. Young and fiercely free. Somewhere, in the copper green of...

NOTE ONE

Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India. January, 2005 “Now, he turned and walked slowly in the direction of the tigress…She was still lying in the same position, and...