There has recently been a rise in the population of snow leopards in Himachal Pradesh. So it was not entirely a surprise when a snow leopard was spotted in a residential area in a village.
Far too often, residents end up killing such creatures when they encounter them near their own homes. In this case, thankfully, the villagers chose to capture the snow leopard and release it back in its own habitat (video above).
Across India, attacks by animals such as leopards are not uncommon, especially in areas like Uttarakhand and West Bengal. However, what is far more common are attacks on leopards by human beings. In January and February 2018 alone, 106 leopards died, with inly 12 of the deaths being ascribed to natural causes. In 2017, there were 431 leopard deaths according to the Wildlife Protection Society of India.
“There is need for better planning and joint action, not just at the policy level, but on the ground, to ensure core forest areas are not easily accessible to the public. Better protocol in urban areas to ensure man-animal contact is controlled, and developmental projects are planned without disturbing the habitat of these large carnivores,” said Tito Joseph, programme coordinator at WPSI. An expert added in the report that the Centre needs to focus on keeping animals in the forest, explaining that increasing contact with humans is causing deaths. What is needed even more, said the President of the Wildlife Conservation Trust, is sensitivity of humans towards these species.
Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.
Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.
Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.
Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.
The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.
But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.
The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.
This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.