Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Let’s do our bit for the Tiger

Let’s do our bit for the Tiger
By Abhijatya Dhar

The tiger, one of the most magnificent animals in the world, is also one of the most endangered. A cat of beauty, majesty and pure strength, the tiger is the master of all. It is also India’s national animal. Less than a hundred years ago, tigers prowled forests from the East to West and North to South across western Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Indo-China, Russia and the Indonesians islands of Bali, Java and Sumatra. There were eight subspecies of the Tiger in the beginning of the 20th Century. Three are now extinct, leaving five existing subspecies — the royal Bengal tiger, Indo-Chinese, Sumatran, South Chinese and the Siberian tigers. The three species which have become extinct are the Javan, Caspian and Sumatran tigers.
For over a thousand years, tigers have been hunted as status symbols, decorative items, souvenirs and curios. Tigers have been losing their habitat and as a result, their prey. Hence, their population is threatened everywhere. Hunting for sport probably caused the greatest decline in tiger population which was still respectable till 193Os. The greatest threat was loss of habitat between 1940 and the late 1980s due to growth of human population and expansion leading to activities such as logging, housing and indiscriminate expansion of industries, resulting in a lot of deforestation. The greens and the jungles perished.
Tigers are mostly solitary, apart from mother-offspring association. Individual tigers have large territory, where prey is in abundance. Tigers give birth to 2-3 cubs every 3-4 years. Juvenile mortality is high. Half of all cubs do not survive for more than two years. Currently tigers are facing threats such as poaching, retributive killing, habitat loss and fragmentation. Poachers continue to exterminate the world’s remaining tigers. New demand across Southeast Asia for the pelt, teeth, claws and bones of tigers is endangering the great cats. There is a strong market in several parts of Asia for traditional medicines made from items such as tiger bone and body parts. Volumes are sizeable and there has been little enforcement action against poachers and traders. Policies conducive to ensuring long term survival of the tiger are often lacking. Where they do exist implementation is often ineffective.
Although there are no accurate estimates of the world tiger population, numbers are thought to have fallen by over 95% since the turn of 20th century, the current estimate being 3,200 animals and if no action is taken, the remaining five species may also become extinct.
Local institutions and scientists who were closely involved in managing tigers at the local level pointed out an important lesson, unless local community needs are met, conservation of the tiger will not succeed and protected areas will perish. Therefore, conservation programs must reconcile the interests of tigers and people. Sustainable tiger conservation strategy cannot be achieved without the full participation, cooperation and collective action of individuals and rural households whose livelihood depends upon rights of access and use of forests where the tiger lives.
There already exists a wide range of technologies and practices, both traditional and new for conservation of resources. Use of external institutions such as NGOs, government departments and banks can facilitate processes by which people develop their sense of ownership and commitment. Success depends on people’s participation in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation which leads to formation of new institutions and strengthening of existing ones.
The conservation endeavours in India have been primarily focused on saving tigers which is one of the key wildlife species in the faunal web.2010, year of the tiger, may be the last chance to get the necessary support and resources to stop the tiger from going extinct in the wild.
The good news is that we know how to do it and we are making the right moves with the right choices to save our national animal. "TX2", a campaign, is building this momentum and supporting WWF’s ‘Tiger Initiative’, a large scale, long-term commitment to tiger conservation. WWF’s ‘Tx2’ campaign aims to put in place the necessary conditions to double the wild tiger population by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022. It seeks both emergency measures and long term foundation for securing the future of the beautiful tiger.
Let us hope and pray that we succeed in this noble cause by doing our bit in spreading awareness to this cause and by refusing to buy anything made of tiger skin, teeth, bones or claws. It is time for some introspection, are we guilty of such a situation when tigers are on the verge of extinction? Are we doing enough to create awareness about it? Do we want to contribute to the cause by respecting nature, its food chain and its balance? Should we promote due respect for nature and animal kingdom, its importance and significance in the existence of the world? Should we make it apart of our primary school curriculum and teach the children at an early age the significance of the animals in nature and in the survival of life and of planet Earth?
Whether this beautiful king of the jungle will survive the vicious greed of man for the coming generations to see him in his glory or it will just exist in legends stories and fables remains to be seen.
Let’s do our bit.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:01 PM

    Undoubtedly a masterpiece.Well researched & interesting article.Keep it up.Joy