13 April, 2021

Buckshot Badshahs

Hunting—the macho, royal 'sport'—is rampant. The law is just a paper tiger. Updates

Buckshot Badshahs
It was mid-1994 when I received a phone call from a place near the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. The scion of an erstwhile ruling family wanted his son to shoot a tiger to mark his coming of age, it was a family tradition. A tiger had been located, a bait had been tied, a machan built. The tiger was to be shot that very night. A flurry of phone calls to the district officials took place. The bait was untied, the machan dismantled and the tiger spared. I received a defamation notice from a lawyer of the family, but that is another story.

So what causes a Salman Khan, not royalty but a macho film star, to be accused of hunting black bucks in Jodhpur, and an erstwhile nawab of Pataudi to be embroiled in a black buck shooting case?

The answer goes back to the shikar tradition of the Raj days in India. Not much sweat went into ruling princely India. Time was killed hunting 'game'. Maharajas invited viceroys to shoot a tiger to curry favour. Wildlife sanctuaries were called "game parks", created largely to ensure better hunting for royals. Commoners were strictly forbidden...

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