It walking together in a jungle clearing,

It was like a person in an audience breaking into a cough. Perhaps for the previous half-hour, not a soul had coughed; but as soon as one person did so, a dozen others followed. Well, that was the way it worked. And then there was the media, always on the look-out for sensation, which they sensationalised even further.

But such incisive analysis did nothing to stem the increasing tide of incredible stories pouring in about the animal world. A Brazilian photographer came up with a video shoot of a tiger, a wild boar, and a rhino walking together in a jungle clearing, but it did not go down well with governments and intellectuals, who spoke harshly in terms of technological trickery and fraud.

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And then, one day, it happened. A man sleeping on a city street woke up to find himself facing a fiery wolf. Before he had time to react, he was attacked, killed and eaten up.

People looked out of their windows to see vultures circling the sky, and at street-corners were postings of tigers or elephants or giant apes or lions or bears or wolves or wild dogs or permutations and combinations of these. And to their ears came growls like from the inside of the crater of a volcano that was about to explode.

No, it just did not make sense, they told themselves. Animals could not unite in this fashion—it was against the laws of Nature. Surely, it was a nightmare. And they pinched themselves and looked again. They saw what they had seen before; and in their minds came back the stories they had been hearing, disbelievingly, over the past many months. It struck them like a resounding smack on the face: they had been cruel to animals; they had tortured them, trapped them, speared them, shot at them and destroyed their habitats. If only it had been known that they could get together and retaliate!

They heard hisses and strange noises coming from here and there, and turning, they saw snakes slithering in, and other creepy things looking for openings into their houses. The earth began to shake and the air began to darken with poisonous fumes. Man had misused both earth and air, and now it seemed the whole of Nature was rebelling against him! A last desperate hope gripped his heart: what if the noxious smoke and the frightful tremors drove away the beasts?

If only he could get another chance!