The world is very vast and filled with immense diversity. The latter has given birth to a lot of different cultures that may seem strange or even impossible to us. But what is happening in Bera, India, is very real: the inhabitants live in harmony with leopards, felines as beautiful as they are dangerous… This is proof that being in perfect union with nature is conceivable. !
- A devotion to nature
- A peaceful outlook on life
- A respect also present in leopards
- A small tourist profit
A devotion to nature
In Indian mythology, the god Shiva is the master of the elements and nature. If it is also associated with destruction, this is not a negative point. Indeed, it must give rise to a rebirth in order to create life in a new world. Balance and harmony are therefore its strengths, but also the raison d’être of the inhabitants of Bera. Worshiping Shiva, they decided to do everything to protect the environment in which they were born.
While in India the war between men and leopards is raging due to the massive destruction of their natural habitat, this is not the case in Bera. This Indian community has made it a land of peace where predators and prey successfully coexist. Neither the villagers nor the leopards get scared when they pass each other. But what is the secret of this incredible cohabitation?
A peaceful outlook on life
Some representations of Shiva adorn him with a tiger or leopard skin symbolizing wild life and bestiality. The Rabari tribe living in Bera believes in this icon, advocating ahimsa which can literally be translated as “non-violence”. In the Indian popular imagination, this notion is materialized by a lion and a cow drinking in the same water point in complete tranquility.It is very similar to the pattern of life that flows in Bera. When a leopard decides to attack a prey among the livestock of the inhabitants, no reprisals await it. The Indian state issues financial compensation in such situations. But more often than not, the community prefers to regard this act as an offering for Shiva, further emphasizing their extraordinary understanding and esteem for nature.
A respect also present in leopards
These magnificent felines have seen their population double since the 1960s. Nevertheless, humans and leopards continue to kill each other in other parts of India, each taking the others as a threat. In Bera, it’s really another world : the leopards let the inhabitants live as they see fit and they don’t mind residing near the village. During the day, they rest peacefully on the hills surrounding Bera, only moving after dark. They protect the vegetable crops of the inhabitants of the village from animals such as wild boars and gazelles. Their favorite prey, however, remains the wild dog prowling in search of food near houses.
In more than a century, a single incident has disrupted the harmonious cohabitation between humans and leopards. A feline once grabbed a toddler in its mouth, but let go when it heard the child’s mother’s pleading cries. The latter is still alive, his nickname being Setri or “leopard”. The villagers simply forgave the leopard his mistake, he would have been hunted down and then executed while in other Indian lands. It is thanks to this tolerance that the number of leopards in Bera is the highest in the world, although it is not even a nature reserve.
A small tourist profit
The village of Bera seized the opportunity to highlight its unique particularity in the world. Hotels are there to welcome tourists curious to discover this supernatural cohabitation. This is how the villagers take care of both the upkeep of the hotels and the upkeep of their fields. Women are employed as servants. As for the men, they have a duty to alert tourists when leopards show the tip of their noses. Tourists are not crowded in Bera, which helps to maintain the balance created. The inhabitants bail out their coffers a little more thanks to this and do not complain about it.
The ultimate goal of the villagers would be to acquire community reserve status. This would allow them to fully administer Bera, preventing large industries from setting up shop nearby. If this were to happen, the harmonious cohabitation between leopards and human beings could indeed be broken.
In reality, the mutual respect that reigns between men and leopards in Bera should not seem so phenomenal to us. This peaceful vision, as well as the great esteem they have for nature, should be applied everywhere in the world.