As a young boy growing up in Mumbai I would climb trees to steal mangoes at night when everyone was indoors watching TV. It’s ironic that many years later a newly discovered fruit tree variety has been named after me – Sachin mango tree! Now I look back and see that certain passions in my life have turned a full circle.
I think about the very first bat my sister gave me at the age of seven and how I naively imagined myself, hours on end, batting for India’s cricket team. I loved that bat so much and used it until it was broken. Whether I knew it or not, trees became my most prized possession and holding one in my hand fulfilled my every dream.
Since then, I have lived and dreamed cricket. If the bat was to ever be taken away from me I would be completely out of my element. Still, it would be selfish of me to think though that I am the only one that needs trees. Take the tiger for instance, a majestic symbol of India’s pride and heritage. Not only has the tiger been hunted down at alarming rates in the last century, but the destruction of forests reduces its security and livelihood.
I am by no means an expert in conservation but simple logic tells me that we should let tigers live in forests without disturbance, just as we in our own habitat enjoy an uninterrupted life. I make this simple link and reasoning only because my hometown, Mumbai, has a perfect example of co-habitation: the Sanjay Gandhi National park.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is particularly unique because it is surrounded by India’s most populous city, Mumbai. It covers 104 km2 with bustling forests, hills, valleys and lakes. The park provides a home to a rich biodiversity of an estimated 1,000 plant species, 284 kinds of birds, 5,000 insect species, 40 species of mammals, 150 butterfly species, and as well as 62 different species of reptiles. All this attracts more than 2 million people every year, making it one of the most visited parks in the world. The forests also help fight the growing air pollution problems in the nearby city.
Circling back to when I first held a bat in my hand, I realize now that life is more than winning a game. It’s an intricate balance of opportunities in which nature provides for us but we as well give back to other life forms. By taking steps such as preserving the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the forests in turn protect the endangered tigers, provide us with an industry, and are the lungs of Mumbai.
Batting for more than just the game!
by Sachin Tendulkar
Extrait du livre « Des forêts et des hommes » rédigé par la rédaction de GoodPlanet à l’occasion de l’année internationale des forêts et disponible aux éditions de la Martinière.