OF THE BANGALORE TIGER
story broke fourteen years ago in Nagarahole, a national
park whose name in Kannada means "snake river."
But it had little to do with snakes. Nor did it concern
the tigers, leopards, wild elephants, gaur, four-horned
deer, barking deer, wild dogs, bonnet macaques, common
langurs, babblers, crested hawks, or great Indian warblers
that inhabit Karnataka's most famous National Park. It
had everything to do with Asiatic lions. Money poured
into the park coffers because of research and tourism
based on these magnificent but endangered beasts. A namesake
casino flourished at the edge of the park. They were the
pride of the region and the symbol of the nearby Bangalore
Unbenownst to the world, they had also been extinct for
Both Maya and Ammavaru died of Elliot's Feline Leukemia,
the same new-found malady that had claimed their one hundred
or so zoo-bound kin. Kuru was poached. Lokapala was electrocuted.
They were the last two breeding pairs, and the last four
of their kind.
The world, though, never mourned Lokapala or his three
doomed soulmates. As far as the public, the press, the
conservators, and the contributors knew, there were still
twenty-three Asiatic lions roaming the area. Life seemed
good for them in the warm womb of Nagarahole. This was
because their supposed protectors, Anu Rao, Murin Yap,
Ramoji Kumar, Sitaram Karanth, and Stijn Mertens had become
so wealthy. All five built fortunes on lion-related largesse.
The loss of their goldmine was apparently too much for
this evil quintet. Their greed was strong and they were
far too young to retire. So sometime in 2119 they concocted
a scheme to segregate one of the lion prides. This was
the beginning of their foul ruse. In fact, the four beasts
were all custom-built products of America's Cybertronics
Corporation. They served as robotic replacements. Carefully
designed and covertly deployed, they fooled everyone but
their fellow lions-who were of course hunting apart from
During the next eight years all of the real lions died
and were replaced. Others were added to the mix. The lion
population swelled from sixteen to twenty-three and the
Asiatic Lion Kingdom was established. Both private and
government grants swelled accordingly.
Then came the fall. A wily poacher felled artificial prey.
The charade unraveled. Arrests were made. Charges and
accusations flew about. Resignations and prosecutions
followed. Cybertronics quietly settled at least one lawsuit.
The people of the embattled Indian Federation, especially
those in Karnataka, mourned their bitter loss. They wept.
And in keeping, with the Cybertronics connection, the
saga became known as the Weeping Lion Scandal.
Enraged faculty at Bangalore World University petitioned
their Board of Visitors to change their century-old logo.
The Golden Lion was replaced by the Bangalore Tiger on
July 2, 2128. While the sports teams and student groups
continued to champion their old, now-extinct namesake,
BWU no longer traded on the tainted image of the doomed