By Ananya Mukherjee:
Tigers, the symbol of power, the magnificent of all cats, are one of the biggest among the 37 species’ of cats in the world today. Till about a century back, the tiger was widespread and was found largely from Turkey to China, but now it faces the danger of extinction. Now, it is found in some parts of India, south-west Asia, Iran, Manchuria, Sumatra, Bali and Java. Part of the eighteenth century till the end of the twentieth century witnessed the ever increasing decline of the tiger population. One reason was the wealthy hunters, who ruthlessly hunted down the tigers for sport and then by the natives, out of fear.
Later as the civilization spread, huge forest areas were cleared to make place for humans and thus, robbing the tigers of their natural habitat, resulting in great decline of the tiger population. Due to the steady decline of the tiger count, in 1972, the World Wildlife Fund launched a campaign to protect the tiger. As a result of this campaign, in some of the countries killing of tigers was banned, so was export of any product made out of tiger’s body parts.
The current tiger population in India as sourced from the 2008 Govt. census is 1411 with Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka counting for the maximum number of tigers in decreasing order. Considering the fact that over a century the numbers of tigers in the world have gone down from 100000 to some 7000 approx. tigers remaining in the world, it’s an alarming situation and it calls for human introspection and support to help in the survival of the rest.
Creation of awareness to uproot ignorance — the mother of all problems — is the first and foremost action to be taken. For this, educating the locals putting up around the tiger habitats is essential as they should know that they deal with an endangered species and any harm to them could lead to the disruption of the food chain. Villagers should be helped with technology so that to acquire fuel they do not rely on wood and charcoal which would lead to deforestation.
Secondly poaching should be discouraged and poachers should be given severe punishment. Our policies against poaching are very loose which gives the poachers a free hand in taking advantage of the system. Illegal hunting of deer and other animals on which a tiger feeds should also be discouraged as it leaves the tiger with no food. With no food around, the tiger is forced to shift from its habitat which results in more of human tiger encounters resulting in forceful poisoning of tigers for self protection.
More tiger sanctuaries having natural habitat for them should be developed and use of tigers in circus or for entertainment purpose should be strictly prohibited. Also, possible environment for their natural breeding should be provided.
A simple act/law stating that all forest officials of concerned forest would lose job automatically upon un-natural death of more than 1 tiger in a year would be enough to get them to do their job. This would indeed make a big difference.
Eco tourism concentrating on tigers should be encouraged as it would help the tourists understand the importance of tigers. Also, the revenue generated from tourism could be used for conservational and research purposes of tigers. Alongside, it can be told to the government that tigers can generate a lot of revenue, so they should look into their preservation project seriously.
Another action in this tech savvy world could be to join in to support a cause for tigers. This can be done by liking a particular cause on social networking sites, blogging, making posters, sending fliers etc. Donations for these causes should be accepted and encouraged. There are many letters that are issued through NGO’s and conservationists to the government to implement stricter actions or appeal for certain matters. Joining these causes would build pressure onto the government to help tiger conservation.
In a recent interview, Michael J Vickers, a wildlife conservationist and photographer who has a particular passion for tigers and travels regularly to India, seemed gloomy over the tragic death of the Jhurjhura tigress at Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh and the subsequent death of one of the tigress’s cubs. He says, “My hope is that the two remaining cubs will survive and eventually continue the dynasty of their mother. I have written about this tragedy on my website requesting that as many people as possible write to the authorities in India asking why the investigation by the local special task force is taking so long (now about 27 weeks) and that the guilty persons still have not been arrested and brought to justice.” He has asked for support of justice for Jhurjhura tigress by following the link: http://www.tigersintheforest.co.uk/savethetiger.html
The latest piece of concerning news that has flown in and confirmed by Mr. Vikers is that the two rangers at Bandhavgarh who were suspended after the death of Jhunjhura tigress have been reinstated and given back their range charges. This action by the Madhya Pradesh Forest Dept. is almost unbelievable as the results of the investigation are still awaited. Mr. Viker thus requests all to write to Minister of State in Delhi and The Chief Minister of M.P. in Bhopal expressing dismay at this course of this action.
The tiger is an epitome of the wild. The gruesome reality reminds us the severity of threat to the tigers. So we should all join in hands and get into action by giving our support in fighting for this most iconic yet endangered species!
Image courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bengal_Tiger_in_Bangalore.jpg