Many Westerners have a wrong understanding of wild animals.
‘Wild’ in their minds is associated with ‘unpredictable’ and ‘dangerous’, when, in fact, wild animals are predictable, and only get dangerous when feel threatened.
I remember visiting a deep jungle in Karnataka, India.
My boyfriend and I had to ride a scooter for 4 hours to get there; two hours to reach the jungle, and two more hours to get deep into it. We even saw forest people, barely covered in pieces of cloth and with tattoos on their faces.
The road was narrow and winding, and the forest was getting more dense; on a few occasions we thought of turning back, as we felt vulnerable in this unknown area. What if something would happen to our scooter? Where would we get help?
Yet the interest we had for the place we were heading to won over the fear, and we finally reached the deep part of the jungle.
There, we found a little space without any trees, to park our scooter. Near the ‘parking space’, there was a small wooden house, the home of forest workers.
Those forest guardians were people concerned about wild animals, who kept the jungle clean, and prevented people from disturbing animals. There was only one very narrow path that people were allowed to take, which led to some ancient rocks considered sacred by locals, and a waterfall.
In this jungle, there were many types of poisonous snakes (14, if my memory serves me right), including the most deadly one of all – King Cobra. What’s more, there were pumas, leopards, jackals, tigers, flying foxes, and giant squirrels.
It was intimidating, to say the least, to walk down that narrow path, knowing about all the wild animals lurking in the jungle, probably very near us. We struggled our way through bushes and trees, hoping to catch a glimpse of any other fellow adventure seekers, to no avail.
To our relief, none of the beasts showed themselves whilst we were walking to the waterfall, and back. I did get to see a tiny baby snake, that looked more like a worm - that’s how un-intimidating it was! There were no foreigners in this area, and we only got to see an Indian family on our way back to the parking space.
I must say that I was the one that was afraid – my boyfriend was totally at peace. Since he’s from the tropical South India, being born near the jungle, he knew very well that nothing would happen to us. He felt alive and at peace in the wilderness, totally trusting that we would have no dangerous encounters.
When we went back to our scooter, my boyfriend struck a conversation with forest workers. They even spoke a little bit of English, and told me, that wild animals are very predictable, and least dangerous beings you could find.
All wild animals want is to peacefully roam around their land. They don’t even cross the human path daytime; they only dare to cross it at night.
At night, animals also roam around the wooden house of the forest workers, but these people aren’t afraid. They know that it’s the wild animals’ time, and animals know that daytime is the time for humans to come out. So, animals and humans live in harmony and peace.
Wild animals very much try to avoid humans, and sometimes watch them from afar, never coming closer. On many occasions, forest workers could see a tiger sitting on the branch of a tree, peacefully observing them going about their life.
Forest workers told that humans were more dangerous and much more unpredictable than animals. Animals only attack when they feel threatened, or when their habitat is being destroyed (for obvious reasons). Yet humans can be aggressive without any valid reason.
That wasn’t the first time I heard that. I think most people working with wild animals hold this opinion. Even in UK I met people saying that animals only attack when they feel threatened, and that humans are more dangerous.
Besides this, animals are much more predictable, because they follow the rhythms of nature. It’s humans who are disconnected from the rhythm of nature, and thus, can act in unpredictable ways.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that humans project their own qualities of aggressiveness and unpredictability to animals. Then they sit and absorb this “reality”, gaining “stability” from it, since they’re witnessing their own qualities playing out.
Whenever I get in touch with an animal that’s unknown to me, my knowledge of that animal grows by observing it and reading about it. This knowledge dispels ignorant fears instilled by media and other people about those animals, and I come to realize that the animal is a pure and beautiful expression of life, which is God.
Experience by experience, I’m shown over and over again that animals are loving creatures who are predictable and only get aggressive when threatened. When humans destroy their habitat, of course they’ll try to protect it. If humans suddenly invade their space, they may feel threatened and can attack.
Yet humans can be aggressive without such valid reasons, and sometimes attack because of their own insecurities and fears. That makes them more dangerous and unpredictable than animals.
Most wildlife shows instill unreasonable fears in humans about animals. A more in-depth study of them, as well as personal experiences, can surely remove this sheet of ignorance.