By Ashna Mishra:
It is a well known fact today that the tiger, one of the world’s largest cat species, stands near the brink of extinction. A hundred years ago, there were 10,000 tigers in the wild. However, the most recent estimations say that there are only 3,200 tigers left world-wide, further endangering the animal species — ‘Panthera tigris’.
Talking of India, the crisis of tigers is indeed tragic with the nation having close to 60% of the world’s tiger population. Even though the latest census has witnessed a slight increase in the tiger population, from 1411 to 1706, the crisis prevails. Are you wondering what happened to all the measures that have been articulated to save the beautiful animal from extinction, for example the ban on poaching and hunting? Well, such measures have definitely benefited to the cause but the reason the crisis still persists is the dawn of an all-new problem.
The problem is no more related only to the fragmentation or the degradation of the forests. It’s no more about just the illegal hunting. It’s about people like us, the creations of nature who are actually playing a major role in causing harm to the tigers. How? We have started loving the poor creature to death.Â Still oblivious of what I mean?
Well, it is about the tourism; the ongoing battle between eco-tourism and tigers. Although, it is widely believed that tourism provides intense protection to the endangered species through close monitoring, but the recent statistics strangely highlight an entirely different trend. It has been noted that the areas flooded by tourists have seen a significant decline in the number of tigers, while the areas where tourists are not allowed, show the opposite. With the advent of eco-tourism, we have begun to over exploit the tiger habitat. Why do we want even the minor tit-bits about the creature? Why can’t we just sit back and let the tigers thrive and breathe a deep sigh of relief?
Indeed, the tiger tourism provides income to thousands of local people but this cannot be done at the stake of the already endangered tigers’ lives. It is both ironic and a matter of serious concern that as the ever increasing number of people are flocking to see the tigers, their (tigers’) numbers are in turn declining. This ought to be stopped and taken care of as we cannot afford to lose our iconic symbol.
Finally, coming to how we can contribute, we need to think beyond the simpler ways like not buying tiger related products or joining various Facebook pages and groups that aim at protecting tigers. A Facebook page can in no way cease the perpetual crisis. What we need to do is, to volunteer and help in eradicating the menace of tiger tourism.