A Myth Can Preserve the Ecological Balance

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Write a one page reflection on the movie. You may approach this the way you prefer. Make it one page, precise and building connections between different things discussed in the documentary. You may write about parks, wolves, India, history, modernization, ecosystem, local tradition, shepherds, local knowledge, food-chain, co-existence … or local tribes.

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10 thoughts on “A Myth Can Preserve the Ecological Balance

  1. The documentary, “Walking with Wolves,” talked about the journey that a man named Joe took to study wolves in the south central plains of india. In this documentary, you see how people were greedy and began to poison the wolf population because they needed food and focused on their livestock. This documentary centered around a specific wolf in which they named, Bent Ear. They followed him and watched how he thrived and what he had to do to stay alive for so long, as well as keeping his partner and young safe. One thing that I took from this documentary was the unique culture that the Nomad people had. They did not hurt or try to trap the wolves when they would kill their livestock, because they respected them, because they believed that wolves are what remind us of our own greed.
    I believe that the topic of urbanization goes back to this same idea of human greed. We are always trying to get the upper hand, make a little more bang for our buck, or still away something that might be better suit for someone else. With population growth occurring, it is becoming harder within cities to find public green spaces that all types of people can enjoy. This is because the land has become very valuable and many developers compete for these precious spots. This makes it almost impossible for a lot of public spaces to stay around because of the land’s value. If we as landscape architects do not fight for the right to have these public spaces within cities, grey infrastructure will take over all the cities and there will not be any means of protecting our land and ecosystems within cities.
    I think the valuable lesson to take away from this documentary, is to take a second and think about how you want to leave the world. What are the values that you want to show those who look up to you? Do your morals line up with what you are saying about specific topics relating back to environmental aspects? It is important that we as humans have our heads on straight and confidently know what we believe, and how we want to communicate these beliefs to make a better, more valued world.

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  2. The video ‘Walking with Wolves’ portrays how wolves are being affected by human civilization. Wolves are natural predators, and they help maintain the balance in the ecosystem by controlling the population of species such as deer, which are lower down in the ecological pyramid. However, human settlements encroaching upon natural habitats has been the cause of the declining populations of these predators. The video shows how wolf populations have slimmed down in the plains of south central India due to human settlement encroachment for farmland and fields. They cannot be sighted in places where they were once abundant, because they have learnt to adapt to living among humans in secrecy. They only show themselves once in a while, and steal their livestock through techniques they learnt through the years: dismantling of the livestock pens, and living separately to avoid the risk of being wiped out altogether. The documentary tells the tale of “Bent Ear,” a male wolf and his family, surviving through any means possible, even if it is by eating bananas.

    Aldo Leopold described the hunting and killing of a wolf with great emotion in ‘A Sand County Almanac,’ by writing that a fierce green fire had died in her eyes, and an ecological imbalance had been caused. Humans throughout the world take pleasure in hunting animals, usually predators that are less in number and harder to track down. They do not realize the implications of these actions: overpopulation of animals such as deer, without a predator to control them. The video introduced villagers that were involved in hunting as well, but there were also those who were hesitant to hunt them down. The reason behind this caution was a myth that spoke of a curse put by one brother on his two other brothers for betraying him while sharing livestock. Legend said that the brother’s spirit lived on in the form of a wolf, so they did not kill them. So the documentary is an interesting example of how local cultural beliefs drive decision-making and how animal and human populations have been able to coexist because of them.

    Local customs also affect animal populations negatively. A belief of monarchs in Nepal, offering rhino blood to the Gods, added to the hunting of the endangered species. As human beings, we should realize that our actions can have serious implications on the environment and its balances. Activities such as hunting, poaching, and expanding our settlements to natural lands puts existing inhabitant species at risk. We need to be sensitive of our actions, and should respect species that are holding the ecosystems together.

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  3. “Walking with Wolves” is a documentary about Joe who was trying to find the Indian wolf but found himself on a surprising journey with some of the locals. The documentary took place in south central India and found a nomadic group who claimed that the wolves follow the wandering shepherds. Unfortunately, the nomadic people have been pushed by civilization which has forced them to adapt in different ways. What is special about this group of people is that they didn’t waiver in their beliefs even when they have been pushed.I do not remember if the documentary touched on why Joe was looking for the wolves, but it ended up being a successful journey.

    Joe approached one of the nomadic men to ask about the wolves. At first he was reluctant to answer Joe’s questions about them. This began a long relationship between the nomads and Joe. to ask about the wolves. At first he was reluctant to answer Joe’s questions about them. This began a long relationship between the nomads and Joe.

    One aspect that I liked about the documentary was the relationship between man and the ecosystem. When Joe asked one of the local hunters to be a part of his group of finding the wolves, I never would have thought that his perception of the wolves would change. He was first used to track Bent Ear and has the months progressed his views began to change. When the three pups were poisoned he was so moved that he relied on his spiritual practices.

    The nomads are deeply rooted in their old tales and when a wolf takes from the flock, they do not go after the wolf. The tale is of three brothers and one separated himself and his portion of the flock and retreated to the woods. They believe that this brother is in his wolf skin and comes to take from the flock because he is greedy. The tribe does not want to hurt one of their own so they let it happen. I find something about this tale beautiful. The documentary states “man, animal, landscape have become inseparable” and I couldn’t agree more. Humans have come to rely so much on the earth and its processes and we keep taking advantage of it. If we could care for our land and ecosystems the way the nomadic tribe does than we could live in better harmony.

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  4. The documentary, “Walking with Wolves” showed many themes throughout the film that connects back to what we learn and promote in landscape architecture. These themes include greed, respect, adaptation, and coexistence.

    In the movie, a student named Joe came to study the wolves of the south-central plains of India. Here Joe found a wolf named ‘Bent Ear’ that he followed for almost three years. The Indian wolves are slowly decreasing in numbers as their environment around them is being civilized and turned into farmland by people. Joe stayed in the village to follow shepherds and their herds to see if he could see ‘Bent Ear’ again. Past the difficulties, this decision paid off. It was revealed that ‘Bent Ear’ was in his own territory with a family trying survive.

    What Joe discovered was amazing adaptability. The wolves were transforming the way they lived, their tactics to find food, and even how they communicated with one another. Joe saw that ‘Bent Ear’ had learned over the years that in order to keep himself and his family alive that he could only take zero-risk strategies as any wrong move could mean their last day.

    Many people of the village including shepherds hunt, kill, or poison the wolves to protect their own livestock. A nomadic tribe Joe encounters, does not meet these expectations. Rooted in their belief, this particular tribe does not feel that moving their herd or hunting ‘Bent Ear’ is necessary even after the wolf just snatched a sheep from their herd. They believe that greed has overcome humans. We take everything in our path without expecting to give anything. The wolf is the reminder of this greed according to an old tale the tribe honors. They believe that the wolf is their own brother therefore how could they hunt or even kill them. At the end of the movie, ‘Bent Ear’ reveals possible one of his best, most innovative strategies of survival. It appears he may have adopted another species aside from a wolf to help take care of his family.

    I think that this is the take away from the movie. In landscape architecture we are taught to educate our peers and clients about the damage we are causing with our greedy development. If we are going to create something, it needs to be good for the people, fauna, and flora. We need to advocate that everyone respect the earth and the components it provides us. If we keep continuing to use all of the resources as fast and without care, these resources, like the food and shelter for the wolves, will disappear. Lastly, we need to be adaptive to our environment and think about the further rather than having a ‘right here, right now’ mentality. If the wolves can do it, can’t we? At what point will the increase of hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, and flooding going to open the eyes of people. What we are doing to the earth is not only affecting us but the entire world and all of its species. There will come a point in time, whether it’s too late or not, that we will need to be coexisting with plants, animals, and resources to be able to live in harmony and to survive. Perhaps, we all need to step back and look at the lifestyle and values of the nomadic people in order to achieve this.

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  5. The movie uncvers a very interesting dynamic between the way that animals in the wild survive and the way that people are interrupting those natural processes. People interfere with the way that animals naturally live, by putting them inside cages or within a fenced boundary. This makes it easier for predatory animals to find their prey because they are confined to one small location all the time. Then when animals like wolves come up and attack livestock people get angry and run them off or kill them.
    This relationship is a perfect example of the way that people have a need to dominate nature, so that we can maximize our quality of life. In rout to this endless pursuit of a better life for people we fail to consider how our actions affect the way that other species can survive.
    Showing this story from the perspective of a person who is looking to study and conserve the wolve population is the reason that it is so powerful. The video builds an appreciation and a fondness for the family of wolves. If the video was shown from the perspective of a farmer who was trying to protect his flock from the wolves who come along and ruin his hard work, it would give people a much different impression on how wolves should be treated.
    It is interesting to me that in this story the reason that people and the wolves find a way to coexist with one another, is because of a tribal belief that wolves are their older brother. Even though they are coexisting with one another it is not because people are trying to be responsible and conserve nature, it is because of a spiritual belief. I think that this movie had an opportunity to teach a lesion about living in harmony with nature but it kind of missed the mark, because the reason the shepherds didn’t kill the wolves was spiritual, rather than an ecological reason.

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  6. The film had a strong message of brotherhood and coexistence between humans and the natural world around them. The most powerful part of the message is that the understanding and coexistence didn’t come from a logical or ecological perspective, but from a cultural one. Especially for the nomad tribes, religion and tradition are major aspects of people’s lives. Even though they are different species and have conflicting desires (the nomads wanting to preserve their animals vs. Bent Ear and his family eating them), there is still an understanding that they are one and the same trying to survive within the desolate environment. Bent Ear has developed a comradery with the nomads and other inhabitants through the shared desolation of their natural environment by rapid urbanization and agricultural development of the land. Just as the wolves needed to adapt to different ways of surviving, the nomads had to adapt to exist with the urban society that uses a large portion of land and resources.
    The underlying problem of this conflict is the urbanization and the destruction of a fragile ecosystem. This film shows just one of many cases of displacement and hardship that have occurred in the hundreds of years of expansion. How do we repair the ecosystem and restore the balance in life that these nomads believe in? By improving our land use and recreating the ecosystems that we have destroyed, the nomads and the animal species will be able to survive in better coexistence. This comes back to a previous discussion regarding the division of land between the urban and the natural: do we separate nature from cities or do we find ways to integrate nature into the cities? Now the question also becomes a cultural issue with the traditions of the nomad tribe and how they are affected by urbanization. The division should not be so that we limit the urbanization and restrict our advancing society, but to rethink how we utilize the limited resource of land and how it can also be given to those like the nomads. By integrating nature into our lives and restoring natural systems, the nomads can better live in harmony with Bent Ear and the rest of the ecosystem in its rightful place.

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  7. In Walking With Wolves, it was interesting to see the relationships between people, the land and wildlife. Joe, the main protagonist of the documentary, ventures out into the desert wilderness of India to observe the wild wolves. He makes some interesting findings. There is a remote tribe in the area that claims that the wolves follow them. The leader is protective of them and dodges Joe’s questions. Eventually, he opens up and explains that the tribe has a philosophical relationship with the wolves and that they cannot be found or captured. He explains that “the wolf is our brother, how can we hurt or kill him?” It’s a totally different mindset from the majority. Many people purposely poison or kill the wolves to prevent them from stealing livestock. However, one crafty wolf named Bent Ear (because of his bent ear) has learned to adapt and do whatever is needed for survival. He assimilates his family with other wolves and knows intuitively when to attack a shepherd’s flock. The wolves have also adapted to eating bananas in the wilderness. It’s encouraging to see wildlife adapting to their less-than-ideal surroundings. It means there is hope for animals to persevere into the future. It is interesting how local legends surrounding the wolves made people afraid of them and more likely to kill them. But the tribe who had a healthy, almost spiritual, respect for them was living successfully, side by side. It’s a testament to how legends can either help or hurt a community. For example, Alpa Nawre (former professor at Kansas State) often tells the story of a community in India who took 5 handfuls of mud out of the river every time they took a bath. This was written in their religious laws. Since millions of people participate, the practice has ended up being very significant in the de-sedimentation process for the river. Nawre also said of her focus group in India “people aren’t educated, but they are knowledgeable.” I wonder if manipulating or starting local legends can be a catalyst for change in these small communities.

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  8. The movie “Walking With Wolves” was not only a really enjoyable documentary about the wildlife in this nomadic Indian community, but also a beautiful commentary about humanity’s relationship with the environment today. The stark reminder of urbanization and human development was underlying the story and search for these wolves whose nature, community, and food cycle has been totally altered by the introduction of agriculture to the area. The wolves had previously lived off antelope and other small animals that have now been either forced away from this ecosystem or killed, in order to make way for human advancements. While the movie acknowledges these hardships that the wolves face and attributes the lack of resources at least partially to their low population, it does not do enough (in my opinion) to place humans at fault for the wolves’ struggles. With other places we’ve seen across the globe, especially in the United States, the co-existence and relationship between people and the environment is be exceedingly compromised, and the barrier between naturalized and developed line, known as the wildlife-urban interface. Whereas here, where we have a more defined barrier with the natural world which lessens in more naturalized areas which lessen closer to places like forests, we see this location in India having greater connection with animals and ecosystems—however this is being continually lessened from expansion, encroachment and poaching.
    Another important underlying topic that this movie emphasizes is the co-existence and preservation of the wolves to their society. Not only have the wolves become an important cultural and religious part of the local community, but they also play a crucial role in the cycle of the natural environments a predator and a scavenger. An example similar to this is when in Yosemite, all the wolves were killed to allow more deer to be hunted for the local hunters, but this ended up harming the environment from the harmful effects of the increased deer population. We saw this harm come to the Bent Ear’s children after they were poisoned and killed, leaving the viewer a gruesome but important image of the brutality of man. However, the end of the movie emphasizes an important sentiment of co-existence as the main townsman has accepted the role of the wolves even at the cost of his own gain. The realization of this fact makes this movie really hopeful and uplifting to watch, and helps to shape an important narrative that others can follow on the path to harmony and balance to the natural world.

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  9. “Walking with Wolves” is a documentary about a man named Joe who studied wolves in the southcentral plains of India, for several years. While on this adventure he observed wolf behavior and their interactions with humans. The humans had cleared most of the land for farming; destroying the wolves’ ecosystems. Several wolves were killed by nomadic farmers and their dogs, to protect their herds. This journey provided deep insight into wolves’ behaviors and their techniques for survival. Joe had a frustrating, yet rewarding experience following ‘Bent Ear’ because he got to observe the hunting skills he passed down to his pups, the types of food they consumed, and eventually their den.

    One of the reasons I found this video intriguing was because I got to understand the connections the nomads had with the wolves. The farmers and wolves were doing what they could to survive. An old mythical legend, followed by the nomadic people, protected the wolves from being hunted after killing the farmers livestock. This belief is important, because it has helped protect the wolves and created balance within the ecosystem. The nomads believed we are all brothers and are connected through the environment. The nomads understood that they were apart of the food chain and that natural cycles need to occur for other species to survive. They felt people were too greedy and privileged and often didn’t have a very empathetic mindset. If the nomad’s outlook on nature was followed throughout the world, I don’t believe we would have as many issues, as we do today.

    One of the main ideas in this video that can be seen all over the world is how humans are using land and resources for themselves and it’s pushing animals out of their habitats and forcing them to scrounge to survive. We are focused on development and this is where landscape architecture comes in to play. Landscape architects are educated on natural processes and understand the need to find ways to preserve the ecosystems and protect other species while developing. It is important for other people to understand the implications of their actions and know that every decision made can have an impact on the ecosystem. People need to understand ¬¬¬the importance of living more sustainable lifestyles to help create a balance in our ecosystems. We can’t continue to talk advantage of what land and animals provide for us or else one day it will all be gone.

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  10. Echoing the timeless words of the late great Dr. Seuss, from his novel The Lorax,
    “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

    A Response to the Myths Preserving the Ecological Balance:
    Josephs journey, documented in the 2014 film, Walking with Wolves, winner of the wildlife conservation film award at the 2015 Centre for Media Studies’ Vatavaran festival, is an intimate look behind the seemingly rough exterior of the Indian wolf and how our perceptions often don’t respond to what’s lies before us. This film is a previously undocumented look into the relationship between the nomadic goat shepherds of peninsular India and the regions dominate predator the wolf. A tale of empathy and the ever-growing realization that our actions have irreversible effects that ripple throughout time and across generations. The topics discussed in the film are rooted in the scientific study to better understand the changing conditions the wolves are confronted with. Though intertwined with these topics are underlying themes of religion, trust, and social awareness. Joseph at the start of the film is clearly an outsider, although probably as familiar as he could be with the region and its people he is still naïve to the cultural implications of his actions. After, he hears of a legend of three brothers, were youngest brother is cheated out of his share of wealth by the older two and exiled from the village, but before leaving bequeath a curse upon them that he would come back to claim his fortune. He decides to assimilate with the traditions and mantras of the local people against his better judgment does he begin seeing the wolf they call, ‘Bent Ear’. Who the local people consider being the soul of the youngest brother who was cast away, returning to take what is rightful his. It’s this juxtaposition of scientific study and cultural significance, with the ever-present whimsical tone of the narrator, that makes this film significant. It begins to light the fragile relationships we have with the land and those we share it with. Josephs insistent quest to see, ‘Bent Ear’ again after his first delirious encounter, is just the beginning of the investigation into the lives of wolves in India. His knowledge prior to the film coupled with that he obtained from the indigenous people of the area gave his first-hand experience to the dietary, opportunistic, and adaptive qualities the wolves are forced to adhere to survive the incessant changes occurring to their native environment. Towards that latter portion of the movie another wolf-like animal is observed interacting with, ‘Bent Ear’ and his pups that’s significance and purpose is still a mystery. The film does a significant amount of legwork to prolong its narrative and the identities it projects upon the wildlife documented. Minus this one caveat, the film does an exceptional job of illustrating the emotive and affectional characteristics that help bring awareness and an active voice to the creatures and places they call home. In closing, Josephs accounts are paramount to the preservation and rehabilitation of the Indian wolf population.

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