Pashupati Nath is the patron deity of our secular republic, and it is perhaps the Lord of the Animals’ proximity to Nepal’s only international aerodrome that has made the aviation hub such a sanctuary for wildlife.
While the debate rages on in academic circles about whether the leopard that made a runway incursion this week was a Common Leopard, Uncommon Leopard, Snowy or Cloudy Leopard, one thing is certain: Tribhuvan Interesting Airport should be renamed Tinkune National Park. And it is about time the Civil Aviation Authority came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Animal Husbandry where it rightfully belongs.
This will make it a fitting showcase for tourists arriving or departing Kathmandu by air, to observe our great leap (pardon pun) in Big Cat conservation. The airport management should also induct some lions, and arrange regular sightings of wildlife on the runway so that Nepal goes viral on the Internet and continues to make international headlines.
As we old timers know, there is nothing new about animals straying into Kathmandu airport – they are just reclaiming a habitat that was rightfully theirs in the first place. After all, Gauchar used to provide lush grazing for water buffaloes before it started providing lush grazing for greasy-palmed customs officials. Today, the newly renamed Tinkune International Airport cum National Park offers proof that conservation and aviation can go hand in hand in the buffer zone. Planes and animals can co-exist.
The challenge for the future is how to introduce more wildlife species into the taxiway, apron and hangar areas so that the airport can double as a safari and the International Terminal building can be turned into a Museum of Natural History for wild boar, feral dogs, primates, and last but not least, the Tibetan Wild Ass (Equus kiang).
But that should not be a difficult proposition for the Kangres-Mau Mau Coalition, which has shown that it is a government with a can-do attitude that has successfully eradicated load-shedding and small pox, provided free brain transplants to politicians, and has now taken the step of going boldly forth where no previous Nepal government has ever dared go before to ban honking. ??
As a regular driver in Kathmandu on what are euphemistically referred to as roads, the Ass would be the first to admit that he is one horny dude. I honk all the time. And most drivers like me are simply obeying instructions emblazoned across the backsides of trucks to Blow Horn.
Not to toot my own horn, but the donkey is a law abiding citizen.
This is why I am in a quandary whether henceforth on the Gwarko Intersection I should obey the law of the land or the command on the truck ahead of me. We used to honk for everything in Nepal: to greet fellow-travellers, to curse other drivers, to warn pedestrians to get out of the way on zebras, and to keeping ourselves from falling asleep at the wheel. Now it looks like airliners at Kathmandu will need to honk to warn leopards to get off the runway.