TOPICS: When the bell rings

A few days ago, a leopard terrorized and even attacked people at Balkot of Bhaktapur district. Incidents of wild beasts attacking, terrorizing or even killing people often take place in Kathmandu valley. Obviously, this comes from the fact that the emerald valley — though a jungle of cement now — is surrounded by green hills covered with thick woods. These woods provide safe haven for many a fierce beast.

Curiously, every now and then, a wild beast, unaware that it will be given a cold shoulder, chooses to show up at the doorsteps of its (in)human neighbours.

The Balkot incident makes Yan Martel, author of Booker-prize winning novel “Life of Pi”, sound pretty convincing: “If Tokyo (by extension, any big city) is held upside down, many fierce beasts will fall from it”.

Sporadic visits of wild animals to cities are a droll phenomenon. Do they now prefer urban ‘lifestyle’ to the feral one? Typically, wild beasts do not come to cities for sightseeing. Then, why are they so keen on visiting cities? First, because their habitat is shrinking; second, making an easy kill in the forests is a rarity, with ‘beastly’ poachers killing and eating what the wild beasts are cracked up to live on.

No food left in the forests? Destination cities, logically! Man or beast, cities imply a solace when it comes

to survival. One comforting façade pertaining to this story is that if forests someday witness total extinction of, say, tigers and leopards, these beasts of beauty may be thriving and teeming in cities.

Now, wild beasts appear to be aware of man’s dense presence — hence, an easy prey — in cities. If people choose to leave countryside to settle in cities, why can’t animals opt to desert the woods to ‘settle’ in the jungles of cement? Interestingly, prospects of better careers attract men into cities; prospects of easier preys perhaps lure beasts into cities.

In these changing times, security measures should change as well. While “shut the doors well, thieves and criminals are a great threat these days” is still the most repeated ‘crepuscular’ precaution in many a family, one sea change may soon enjoy an insertion in the hackneyed safety measure: close the gates hermetically, tigers and leopards may break into the house.