13 Jul 2005

still looking around

Swaziland continues the glorious African tradition of pillage by dictatorial rulers. This tiny country is Africa’s last absolute monarchy. Poverty is chronic and wide-spread, unemployment is the rule and about 40% of the population is believed to be HIV positive.
At last count, the king had 12 wives and several more fiancées. Recently the king bought a $500,000 luxury Maybach (a-la Manikchand, of Oxyrich and D-Company fame) for himself and 10 luxury BMW cars for his wives, at an additional cost of about $820,000. Long live the king !

Since childhood, whenever i have looked up in the day sky, i remember seeing scores of vultures traversing. Mere specs high in the air, gliding in slow circles, riding the daytime thermals. Eager scavengers which kept nature clean of the remains of dead animals.
But vulture populations have rapidly declined in recent years. The crash has been variously attributed to poisoning from toxins in livestock carcasses to some virulent viral infection.
The population crash appears to be acute in Western India, where i moved in last year. During my weekend (and other) outings around Pune, i no longer see vultures patrolling the high skies. i have been consciously looking for them, and vultures are alarmingly absent in the day sky.
The truth hit home hard during a drive around the flooded Veer dam last weekend. i witnessed the miserable sight of a few crows trying to peck away at a bloated cattle carcass lying on the bank of the lake in broad daylight !

1 comment:

YardBoy said...

"Thank you for calling Swaziland. All agents are currently busy begging. Your call will be answered by the next available wife".

Rochester, NY has a falcon recovery effort at Kodak.