A Nomadic Myth Maintained the Ecological Balance in India


After watching the documentary, in half a page write your own reflections. Tell us in half a page if you believe it, appreciate it, and if you think there is more to learn from local nomadic tribes.


9 thoughts on “A Nomadic Myth Maintained the Ecological Balance in India

  1. The documentary showed how humans are out of touch with nature and their natural surroundings and that this phenomenon is ever increasing. Humans viewing wolves (coyotes, foxes, etc) as a nuisance, is prevalent all over the world and strikes an ironic tone as it is usually human development and expansion that is encroaching on their territory. It was interesting in the documentary how the wolves adapted to survive by eating fruit and grains that are not usually part of their diet. Bent-ear even knew to be wary of the bananas that had been placed on the ground as they could possibly be poisoned. Animals must adapt to human pressure in order to survive the loss of their land and food sources, as well as slaughter at the hand of humans. I very much appreciated that the nomadic tribes respected the wolves and knew that they were an important part of the ecosystem. It emphasized to me that culture, and in this case tradition and storytelling, play a very important role in how we view nature and act to protect it. There is a rule in wild-harvesting for herbal medicines that you take ⅓ for making the medicine, leave ⅓ for the plant to keep growing and leave ⅓ for other animals and creatures. These types of rules or stories are needed to keep nature and humans intertwined and stress the reliance we have on nature.

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  2. This documentary made me think of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel who both offered sacrifices to God. Cain offered vegetables and Abel offered a lamb. God deemed the lamb the more precious offering. If one is calculating losses on a vegetable farm due to pests and disease it is easy not to be afraid of a few bugs, bunny rabbits, and incomprehensible fungus, however it strikes at the heart of our mammalian roots to think of a predator coming into our midst and taking a child-sized creature. I think the fable of the three brothers keeps this fear at bay among the tribal shepherds and that they are very brave for admitting the presence of a predator. I’m not sure whether this puts God in the place of a predator and how one would deconstruct that, but that’s not my point. In a way these tribes tithe some of their stock to a natural predator. We still tithe in the form of taxes or church dues and we expect to be compensated for it through protection and social services. What benefit does the wolf provide? If we look at documentaries of the changes wolves have brought to Yellowstone National Park we find that the benefits are potentially substantial to our ecosystems and ecosystem services. I hope someday we think of the losses to wolf and bear as tithes/taxes we pay to gain infinitely more in return.

    I believe it, I appreciate it, and I thank the makers of this film for documenting this phenomenon. I am afraid, however, that it is an ephemeral situation because, as the film pointed out, there is no guarantee that Bent-Ear will succeed in passing on his cultural knowledge to his offspring before he succumbs to old age and this association of wolf and human cultures may be lost. It saddens me at the same time as it gives me hope that somewhere in our DNA is the potential for forming these associations.

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  3. The video strengthen my old believe that the human being and animals are connected with each other physically and mentally. As the tribe leader said, wolf and human being are brothers in some way. Similar beliefs are common in traditional culture. This respect of nature comes from the fact that human power is relatively small. Most of the ancient tribes kept the balance relationship with nature by limiting the resource consumption or controlling the cultivating lands since they know that there was no other resources to feed them if they broken the balance. In southeast China, the ethnic minority Miao still respects the tree god. They set up legal protection of trees in tribes. They control the number of trees the community member could cut. When I asked the tribe leader how this culture came from, he told me that they learn that from history. The community who didn’t follow this rule would face the shortage of resources from. There is enormous knowledge we can learn from traditional culture since our ancestors gained this knowledge from thousands of years experience.
    The respect to nature is one of the most significant knowledge we should learn from traditional culture. With the industrialization, the power of human being has greatly enhanced, which causes the illusion that mankind is the center of nature. We can take resource from other places on earth easily when we run out of the resources at one place. So that we do not know that the resources are drying up globally. Going back to respect of nature is one of the solutions to breaking the illusion of human being.

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  4. Ramappa and the whole nomadic tribe who held a firm belief in the brotherhood of human and wolves called off the revenge for Bent-ear even when he took a lamb from them. That is the most touching part of the whole documentary for me. In the South India Central, the nomadic tribe, animals, trees and landscape establish a sound ecological cycle in which everyone has its own share. Why Bent-ear did not always follow the nomadic group to hunt sheep since he knew that they would not take revenge is an interesting question if you think deep through it. His sons and he used to eat fruits to survive when they lived near the village. As carnivores, they gave up an easy way to obtain meat because they also understood the meaning of brotherhood. What is more astonishing was that Bent-ear accepted another wolf to help raise and foster his kids. Meanwhile, Bent-ear also provide a chance for the red wolf to better survive In the form of group. Wolves learned many tactics for survival, such as uniting as a group and distinguish between food and trap, under the pressure of human.
    It is ironic that even wolves know better about love and peace than human. I believe it and I choose to believe it because I wish we could share more like shelters, food, trees with animals so that we can have a healthier ecosystem.

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  5. The documentary brings to light the interdependence of different species in an ecosystem. It was interesting to see how both the nomadic groups of south central India and the wolf populations have had to adapt in response to urbanization. The tribal groups have adopted beliefs that respect the natural cycles of the ecosystem they are part of, for example by accepting that wolves will occasionally take one of their sheep or goat as there are no other natural prey in the area. However, I think what is most telling of nomadic tribes, and other groups that don’t directly participate in capitalism is that there is a level of respect for the existence of other species that goes beyond the value associated with a specie’s contribution to an ecosystem. I think adopting a belief that all living things have an intrinsic value can help us adopt more sustainable lifestyles. For example, if more people who eat meat were able to experience hunting and killing their own food, there may be less tolerance for the inhumane practices of the meat industry because it would hopefully allow us to recognize the sacrifice being made for every piece of meat we eat. I think the need to continuously make individualistic rational decisions in a capitalist society requires us to commodity everything around us in order to ensure our own wellbeing, denying the impact that commodification has on the collective and over time.

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  6. The documentary “Walking with Wolves” follows a wolf family and nomadic shepherds in a three-year journey in south-central India. The film shows how bent ear survived past years in a grazed area where wolves are easily exposed to hunting or poisoning or attacking from sheepdogs. Local knowledge is crucial for both the urban and rural people. Local knowledge continues to develop and adapt to gradual change in environment. The nomadic tribes, who have local knowledge, helped film makers observe wolves and discover how their belief that has possibly kept the Indian wolves alive. One of the highlight in this film was nomadic people’s reaction towards the wolf. Unlike other hunters or local farmers, the nomads never chase, hunt, or hurt the wolves. Instead, they share what they have. The filmmakers discover the legend of three brothers, but the tribe’s behavior shows how to share and give back what nature shared with us. This is a great example of ecosystem and co-existence with nature. In the end, the film discovered another unknown animal with a wolf-like appearance hanging around bent ear’s den and playing with his new pups. This also gives an important message to the audience how wolves adopt the difference and give, share, and help each other to survive the severe environmental condition. Today much local knowledge is at risk of becoming extinct. I appreciate how the film emphasizes that local knowledge is particularly powerful because Indian wolves has not been studied. The film has a smooth storyline and impactful ending. If I were to make any suggestion I would encourage film makers to include how to provide refuges to wolves across the landscapes of India at the end of the film to motivate the audience to take action.

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  7. I enjoyed the documentary Walking with Wolves for presenting the story of one Indian man’s journey in search of wild wolves. I appreciated that the main character Joe is Indian and therefore all his interactions with nomadic peoples was at least of similar backgrounds, instead of being a westerner or other foreigner. The documentary did very well in illuminating the livelihood of nomadic people in south central India, specifically their increasingly difficult existence due to pressures caused by urbanization. From the documentary, I can only deduce that the reason why nomadic peoples do not hunt wolves is because of religion. Folklore states that a human brother was turned in to a wolf because of greed, and therefore the nomadic people do not want to harm wolves. I think there is much to learn between the positive connections of religion and environmentalism.

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  8. The documentary showed an excellent example of co-existence between man and the wild. Even though tied to myths, the nomadic tribe was in a way, looking out for its brother and avoiding harming it and it’s family. When tied to personal emotions, humans tend to care for things that naturally arent associated with them, for example, predators here who would otherwise be seen as harmful. Believing that humans aren’t superior to other living forms is probably the first step to coexistence with others in nature. The other interesting concept shown by the movie is the ability of the wild to adapt. As shown by Bent Ear who has adopted new tactics to find food and survive, it reinstates the fact that the wild, as long as humans do not harm it will adapt to and survive the changes in the world. I think the documentary was successful at showing how co-existence is possible, without harming and puts out a lesson to learn from.

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  9. Interesting article from where I grew up about coyote populations. Disheartening to hear the “experts” say that the issue is due to people leaving food items or garbage out and that coyotes need to return to eating their natural food with absolutely no regard for the destruction of their habitat or natural food sources. Newport is on an island so it is really hard for coyotes or other wildlife to relocate easily when there is pressure from human development and expansion.



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