When The Tigers Will Not Prowl

Posted on January 9, 2011 in Environment

By Shray Mishra:

“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

When I read the quote above, it randomly made me think of all the possible results of human greed. The extinction of a species was the last I could think and the worst of it is when that species is the national animal!

1411 (official figures), this number tells us of the inhumane killing of this animal for medicinal and monetary purposes. The ROYAL BENGAL TIGER, found here, is not found anywhere. But this species and the whole environment has been subjected to this kind of treatment due to nothing else but the constant increase in the greed quotient of today’s developing society.

Just imagine, if 1411 would have been the number for human population on this planet, then what all we could have done to save our species? So, all we are concerned about is, ‘OUR LIFE’. Even if we take this to be the case, the Tiger is called the apex predator, which means it is the basis of the balance in the ecosystem. If they live, we increase the life span of our species too.

Saving the tiger means, saving forests, saving rivers, saving all other animals. If we want them to live then we need to make sure that the herbivores they eat also live. In order to make the predator and the prey live, we also need to make sure that trees are not cut down, as, if there won’t be greenery around, the prey will die and eventually the predator. So, saving the tiger means saving the entire forest with animals in it as the king is because of the kingdom, No kingdom means no king!

The Tiger is the symbol for the protection of all species on this planet since it is at the top of the food chain.

Out of the 3,755 tigers alive in the whole world, India has the biggest share with 1411 currently living in various regions. A major concerted conservation effort, known as Project Tiger, was planned in 1973, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime minister took keen interest in this project. According to information available online, the fundamental accomplishment was the establishment of over 25 well-monitored tiger reserves in reclaimed land where human development is categorically forbidden. The program credited with tripling the number of wild Bengal tigers from roughly 1,200 in 1973 to over 3,500 in the 1990s. However, when a tiger census was carried out in 2007, the reports which came out a year later told a different story. It stated that the wild tiger population in India declined by 60% to approximately 1,411!

Unfortunately for the tiger, it lives in parts of the world with the fastest growing populations. The man’s never ending desires are the reason for the deaths of animals, not only tiger but many more. The greed to take more of everything which is in us humans, is now taking a toll on the environment. We want more land so we are cutting trees, which means clearing forests. Forest is a home to animals, remember the jungle book? I know I may sound like a kid to many but isn’t it right to say that to create our houses we are destroying someone else’s. And to top it all we not only leave them homeless but later on even kill.

According to WildlifeExtra.com, recent surveys were conducted and it is estimated that 15% of the Himalayas forest cover has been lost in the last 20 years, and although that it is not nearly as bad as some parts of the world, this is the key habitat for the largest remaining populations of tigers. The fragmentation of this habitat combined with the reduction in numbers of many key species means that soon, even if poaching were stopped today, there just would not be enough habitat left to support tigers in the wild.

And if habitat loss was not enough, tigers also have to contend with ‘Poaching’. Poaching is the major cause of tiger mortality; this animal is killed for its skin and for the use of its bone for medicines, its nails and teeth are sold to money. One reason for the decrease in numbers of this regal and magnificent symbol of nature’s beauty and power is the hunting for ‘recreation’. Unfortunately, poaching is not isolated to any one subspecies or population. All tigers, no matter where they live, seem to be under attack! The other reason is the villagers or uneducated strata of society who don’t understand the value of this animal’s life. I am sure everyone has heard the news which was out some time back that a tiger was killed by villagers in some part of the country just because he was spotted sitting in the field!

I mean, the poor animal must have lost its way to the forest and entered the field. And the villagers did not give him a second chance; they huddled up together and the 40 people or so together burnt him down just because of their own ignorance!

What a shame! And now who should be called animals?

Even when the tiger has been classified as a “Critically Endangered” species, it is killed as the demand for its parts in the international market has drastically increased at an alarming rate since the end of the 20th century. In Hong Kong black markets, vendors sell a pound of powdered tiger humorous bone for over $1700. This example shows how people kill the animal to satisfy their undying greed. As per a photo-blog posted by NDTV.com, the tiger is primarily killed to supply underground black markets with its organs, pelts and bones. These items are highly regarded in eastern medicine, claiming to posse’s capabilities to heal all sorts of human illnesses and dysfunctions. Having said all this I would like to make a point that all these so-called treatments have no medical value, they are completely unproven and denied by scientists. What I don’t understand is that what is it that makes a person actually believe that eating a tiger’s brain will cure his disease in anyway?

There have been efforts done by organizations worldwide in order to control the constant deaths and the fall in numbers of this animal. While my research to write on this topic I came to know that there is a project named as Tigers forever. It is collaboration between the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Panthera Corporation to serve as both a science-based action plan and a business model to ensure that tigers live in the wild forever.

Initial field sites of Tigers Forever include the world’s largest tiger reserve, the 21,756 km Hukaung Valley in Myanmar, the Western Ghats in India, Thailand’s Huai Khai Khaeng-Thung Yai protected areas, and other sites in Laos PDR, Cambodia, the Russian Far East and China covering approximately 260,000 km2 of critical tiger habitat.

In 2009, there was a sudden change in the Indian society as it was out for the world to know that how many Indians are ready to stand for this noble cause of saving life of this endangered species from extinction, when that is THE NATIONAL ANIMAL. The media, the film fraternity, the sport stars and the big corporate houses came in front to show their support and ask others to support the cause, ‘SAVE OUR TIGERS.’ NDTV, WWF, Sanctuary Asia and Aircel came together for this project. This campaign was carried out to raise awareness and make people put pressure on the government to be more vigilant. It was a very human approach by all who were able to understand the importance of this cause. In this campaign 10, 07,958 people have come together to join the roar till now.

This campaign helped the voice of people to reach the government, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for an emergency meeting and till now the following steps have been taken by the government:

  • Rs 600 crore sanctioned for conservation in the next five years
  • Rs 50 crore will be spent specifically on tigers
  • Conservation of tigers to become responsibility of the Chief Ministers.

Suggestions to save tigers:

  • An elite, well-trained protection force in Tiger Reserves
  • An intelligence network to check poaching
  • Centre to take over sanctuaries and parks in Naxal controlled areas
  • No permission for big projects like mining and industries in tiger habitats
  • Push for more convictions in poaching cases
  • Appoint a chief for the Wildlife Crime Bureau

However, despite the efforts of many, the numbers are still declining rapidly. Recent news reports show that poaching is still prevalent, and it appears that tigers are disappearing as fast today as at any time in the last 300 years. A major report has shown that tigers have disappeared from 40% of their range in the last 10 years (source). I feel now it’s time that leaders and politicians should see the urgency of the problem and declare an emergency for the tiger and save the animal from extinction. It’s now the matter of our national animal and we should do our bit by creating awareness in the society.

ROAR LIKE A TIGER, if you can feel what I say!  Lets come together to save our national animal, to SAVE OUR TIGER.