To the Human reading my words,
I am writing to you as I lie on my solitary Tamarind tree, as I do on most of the evenings. This tree has been my equivalent of your favorite coffee stop.
Instead of coffee, I feast on the beauty of the sunset and the birds flying towards the sun.
I look at the never ending stretch of skies and I wonder how such a bird would taste like. Because that was who I am; A Predator by nature. My full name is Panthera pardus kotiya.
But you can address me by my first name, “Kotiya”. For that is the kind of relationship you and I have. Aren’t we siblings after all? Both being children of Mother Nature. The difference is I am four legged while you are two legged, and of course intellectually supreme.
The difference extends, we hardly feast our eyes on your kind for hours and hours scorching in the sun, just to capture a single photograph.
I hear your skyscrapers are grey, where as ours are green, and my! They say you prefer concrete to treading on Mother Earth with your bare feet
Something I cannot even imagine.
That is the most wonderful feeling on Earth for me, well you might say that I do not have the potential to feel in the first place. But what little I feel. I feel with all my paws.
I hear your water is bottled, and that your food is packed.
We look for our meals on our own.
And, I live in the largest National Park in your country. Perhaps you do know my home, what with all this attention you have been giving it lately! Wilpatthu, The land of Lakes.
It was established as a National Park in 1938, but our kind has been roaming these lands long before that.
There are a plenty of us living here, you lost count of us during the days of war. Because back then what was important was a subspecies of your own kind addressing themselves by our name. But who were we to be offended. We were only beasts.
True, you’re Prince Vijaya and Queen Kuveni fell in love in these lands, and that they began your Nation. But Mother Nature began us. The same Mother Nature who began this lands, these rivers, these waterfalls that you enjoy once in a while, when you go sightseeing on Vacation.
I have almost given up wishing that those visits you pay us, might in some way strengthen our bond.
But for you it has become yet another power game.
We are territorial predators. Leaving our mark in our habitats.
Trees, our favorite signposts. I do know that it is not as sophisticated as your methods.
But what could beat those Electric Fences of yours!
Lately as I’ve been sitting on this tree I’ve been hearing a distant sound.
A sound that frightens my cubs, that sends chills down my wife’s spines that rattles our very spots.
The sound of you making your mark on our trees.
It was ten trees today.
Wouldn’t it be twenty tomorrow, and thirty the day after?
I am sorry for I do not know my numbers, but if you mark as much as you could count,
Where would it leave those of us who cannot count?
We are not asking much.
In fact, we are not asking anything at all. But tell me, if one of my kind intruded your own habitat, wouldn’t we be held at gunpoint, wouldn’t we battling our own lives? All those elephants who come into your villages! How many of them escaped alive?
Yes, we are not human.
Yes, we are not destined to be as great as yourselves.
But do we not deserve to live our life on Earth in peace?
Were we born with beautiful spots on our backs, just to be displayed on your coat racks?
Just know that the closer you get to our habitats, easier it will be for those of you who hunt us for pleasure.
Yes, what do I know? A predator! I am one of the most ferocious hunters.
We hunt for survival.
Survival is the only goal in our bucket list.
Whereas you measure pleasure in the numbers in your pockets, the acres in your deeds.
We were born free, we roam free.
We might not own the legal documents to our habitat, but for us it is a birthright,
The essence of this Earth runs in our veins.
Every time we roar, every time an elephant trumpets we are calling out to the very depths of Mother Earth.
The difference between you and I is, we were born beasts, while you weren’t.
We may not speak. But we listen.
We hear the wails of the trees when your axes hit their cores,
We see the tears in the grains of sands under our feet.
At night we cry too.
But you aren’t Beasts.
You wouldn’t understand.
A Kotiya you perhaps might have seen.