New Delhi, Sept. 29, 2010: In a development that is bound to cast further shadows over an already beleaguered Commonwealth Games, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has sounded out a warning to the Delhi administration that the Games mascot, Shera, could be in the firing line of poachers.
Shera, who embodies a young tiger, could become an easy target, as several volunteers in Shera costumes are expected do the rounds of the Games venues during the October 3 – 14 event. With tiger numbers falling to alarmingly unsustainable levels, and continued demand from China, some nincompoop poachers seem unwilling to distinguish the real from the fake.
“We have been trying to educate the general public through various advertisements in the media that Shera is not a real tiger, rather he is a fake, much like what Faking News is,” said M.S. Gill, the Union Sports Minister, “but there is always that odd moron who takes even Faking News seriously.”
At a hurriedly called press conference, Sheila Dikshit, the Chief Minister of Delhi, in her characteristic just-woken-from-sleep state, sought to assure everyone that all necessary steps are being taken by her government to provide security to the Sheras. “We shall provide bullet-proof jackets to them, and also two armed constables shall accompany each Shera at all times,” she explained.
The Australian government was predictably the first to react to this development hours before even the Indian government did, issuing an advisory to all its athletes and citizens visiting Delhi during the Games to maintain a good 20 metres distance from any Shera they may encounter. The Australian foreign ministry is reportedly giving final touches to a 500 page ‘Book of Advisories’ that it plans to give to every out-bound passenger, bound for Delhi during that time.
The mood at Khalsa College, where a dozen odd Shera volunteers are undergoing training, has turned sombre ever since this news broke out. A couple of volunteers were seen running for cover, their tails tucked fast between their legs, when this reporter tried to speak to them. “These boys have been training really hard for the past two weeks, trying to pick up the finer nuances of tiger behaviour,” said Akhetak Singh, the chief trainer, “and in fact some are doing so well that we were thinking of releasing them into the wild once the games are over.”
The sudden and unexpected turn of events has definitely turned the spotlight back on the precarious future facing the Indian tiger, but the priority for now seems to be to save at least the fake ones.