The Market, Leisure, and Forest – Hunting the Rhinoceros in Bengal
By, Tahmidal Zami, Researcher and Writer, Bangladesh
The Bengal Delta was once home to different species of Rhinoceros, as attested by historians, travelers, and merchants. From ancient times there was hunting of rhinoceros with the purpose of sale in local and international market. In the work of the medieval poet Mukundaram, we see Rhino hunting as labor for sale in the local market. The victim animals, however, found succor in the mythological deities of the folk religions of Bengal. In medieval and early modern times, large scale leisure hunting was emerging in documentation. It was in the British colonial time that extensive leisure hunting of Rhinos in the jungles of East Bengal was captured in documents. At the same time, jungle clearing led to eradication of the habitat of animals. A demystification of the forest was set into pace by the rational civilizational drive of the colonial modernity. The goddesses or mantiques were no longer available to negotiate the limits of the human pursuit of animals for gain or for fun. The colonial administrators, merchants, and troops took to pleasure hunting, while native feudal lords vied with them in this prestige pursuit. This fast-paced the extinction of Rhinos from the Bengal delta. Today, the rhinos are not found in the jungles where in pre-modern times they would graze under the benevolent protection of sacred goddesses.
Mr. Tahmidal Zami is a writer and researcher based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has completed Bachelor of Business Administration from the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. He has been working in the development sector in Bangladesh, currently working as the Lead Analyst in the Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance (IPAG). He has four years of working experience in policy reform.
Zami has contributed to translation projects on Antonio Gramsci, Ahmed Sofa, and Jorge Luis Borges. He has presented paper on emerging economies and development. He works on the crossroads between history, religion, and politics with special focus to Bengal.