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Delhi Safari and the Animals of Aarey

The eerie similarity between the film Delhi Safari and the felling of trees in Aarey forest raises pertinent questions about balancing anthropocentric development and environmental conservation.

Delhi national-award-winning 3D-animated feature film set in Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Maharashtra that is known for its biodiversity. The opening scene of the film shows a tearful lion cub, Yuvraj, recollecting the painful sight of his father Sultan being killed in the national park. Sultan, the alpha male—considered the king of the jungle—tried protecting his home from humans felling trees. As a result, he was shot dead and silenced, like Avni the tigress. Sultan’s murder silenced the voice of all the forest animals, but was viewed as just collateral damage. While only fictional, this story mirrors reality and brings into focus uncomfortable questions that animal activists across India are trying to address. The film initiates a conversation on the importance of animal rights in India and focuses on the need for the protection of biodiversity and the environment.

Prerna Singh Bindra in The Vanishing: India’s Wildlife Crisis (2017) observes that legislations related to the environment and animals post the Bhopal Gas tragedy in 1986 have been reactionary. Nanditha Krishna in Sacred Animals of India (2008) lists unchecked development, destruction of habitat, and bureaucratic red tape as the culprits in the killing of wildlife and the environment, simultaneously. The government’s handling of the metro shed project in Aarey Milk Colony is a good example of all these culprits coming together.

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Updated On : 10th Feb, 2020

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