A long time ago, when it was all right for men to hunt animals, there was a man who was known to be a perfect shot. He would always kill a wild animal in one shot. He never missed and he never shot an animal except when he was hungry.

One morning, he took his gun and headed off to the jungle to hunt. He walked for many a mile before he sat down to rest. As he was sitting, he saw a bear up on the mountainside. He quickly reached for his gun. As he took aim, he noticed that the bear was walking on a thin ledge on the side of the mountain. If he shot the animal now, it would fall into the deep gorge and would be of no use to him. So he put his gun down and kept watching.

Suddenly, he noticed that from the other side of the ledge a small bear had started walking across. The hunter thought to himself, Oh! That is such a narrow ledge, both the bears cannot cross it at the same time. When they come face to face, they will fight and both will fall into the gorge. What a waste. He considered shooting one of them, in order to save the other, but realized that, the noise of the gun would probably scare the other and both would fall and die. He had no option but to wait and watch.

The Ridge Forest
The Ridge Forest [Illustration by Amarjeet Malik]

As the big and small bear reached face to face, they stopped and started to talk to each other. The hunter waited for them to start fighting. To his surprise, the big bear sat down and allowed the small bear to climb his back and cross over. Then the big bear got up and walked across the ledge.

The hunter was overwhelmed with emotion, and thought, These animals know more about collaboration and courtesy than man. We foolish humans keep fighting with each other over the smallest of things. These animals are actually more intelligent than us. From that day onwards he stopped hunting and started spending all his time in the jungle to try and understand how the animals lived and communicated with each other. It is said that he lived in the jungle for many years and tried to save the animals from being hunted. The jungle now is a reserved forest; no one is allowed to hunt there. It is called “The Ridge Forest”.