The Tiger: Saving India’s National Animal

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright !

Let not it burn out on the realm of our imagination and fascination.

Bob Hoskins wrote, “think of lions and immediately strength and nobility spring to mind, think of the tigers and there are no words, just feelings.”

What is it about this lone ranger, an iconic figure, who day by day diminishes not just from the forests but from the very memories? What would it mean to the generations that follow? Tiger – the majestic of the cats, its anatomy perfectly adapted, its skills meticulously learned, and instincts highly developed making it the most lethal yet admirable predator.

But is that all to this charismatic animal or is there something we fail to see below its powerful stripes. Perhaps, we fail to see a heart that doesn’t beat as calmly as it did before when it roamed its territory. We fail to register the eyes that look at us through our highly digitalized sense, asking a hundred questions, one being why? Undoubtedly we missed the soul that cries out, “I was here before you and I have every right to exist”.

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A picture appeared in a magazine a few years ago, featuring a tiger bandaged like a mummy, showing signs of being poked and stabbed with blood oozing out its mortal body. It’s chilling to think, is that all one could do, just watch as it vanishes into the darkness. One tiger gets killed every two weeks. Is that a way to treat the vahana’ of our goddess? Associating animals with gods and goddesses was meant to conserve them not just in their habitats but in our visions and memories as well. For a country that thrives on beliefs this is like betraying the faith that is held so high.

And then arises yet another question, is the poacher at fault, who perhaps prays before the Durga’ that he should get a good hunt into the forests. Or is it the people at fault who buy the tiger parts believing in their faith again that the tiger is the cure to all ailments. Hundreds of NGOs, thousands of dedicated volunteers, handful of poachers, a little more of the buyers, yet why are we not making a difference? What are we finding difficult to stop this madness? If this is the fate of our national animal, where would we lead the others?

The link is not complete. There is a gap that needs to be filled, a space in the conscience of people. With the ever forward marching world, we seem to have filled that space with other things and lost our connection with the beliefs that were so dear to the generation before us. We need to step back and analyse and devise a new way to revive that faith and inculcate the same into the generations to come.

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The tiger has equal right to be here, not solely because it is an apex predator governing the balance of the ecosystem on which hangs our existence but for the reason that nature selected it to survive and it fought its way up the ladder of natural selection and it deserves its reward. And don’t we humans share the same spirit. After all we also fought to be at the top in our own way from being ‘hunter-gatherers, and living in caves to masters of all trades and living in skyscrapers’.

It’s for a long time we have played God and we know deep down we have failed at many. Now it’s time to pull down the curtain and hand over the trident’ to the Creator so that the order is restored and everything gets an equal chance at life. Let’s believe as the movie ‘Avatar’ sensibly puts it, ‘the Eva doesn’t take sides; it just protects the balance of life.’

We do so, not just because it is the right thing to do but also because the generations to come would have no questions for us other than these, “Why didn’t you stop when you had a chance? Why didn’t you save when you could? Why didn’t you care when you should have?

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Tiger Tiger Burning Bright..! Let’s See To It That It Always Shines..!

The situation seems grim, but there is always hope..if we take effective steps and turn them into habits. Below mentioned are a few things we can do which would give immense results:

  1. Use resources wisely
  • Electricity is produced by submerging acres of forest land, where major rivers originate.
  • Water is a precious resource, only 3% is freshwater, about 2.4% of this is permanently frozen, and about ½ of 1% of water on earth is groundwater, with only about 1/100th of 1% in rivers and lakes.
  • Around the world 400 million tons of paper is used every day. Reducing use of wood will allow forests to serve a more important role – collecting and storing carbon from the atmosphere and ameliorating the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resulting climate change – not to mention the role of forests in providing habitat and allowing biodiversity to thrive! Use old envelopes for scrap paper, wrap gifts in old newspaper, use both sides of the printer paper, stop buying paper calendars, think twice about printing out. 
  1. Try to be a vegetarian, much of the world’s food and land resources are tied-up in producing beef and livestock-food. According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institution, the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed worldwide every minute to create more room for farmed animals. It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. You save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you do by not showering for six months! Read more:
  1. Be aware and spread the word about conservation and practice the 3 R’s, (REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE). You could even try developing attention through fun methods like planning competition concept events. The more you propagate the gospel, the more people will adhere to the cause.
  1. Appeal to the government to create special cells in the border guarding forces and train the personnel to effectively track and stop wildlife trafficking across borders.
  1. Tigers as pets, remember tiger is a wild species and its home isn’t your house but the forests.
  1. Consumption of tiger products for their purported healing powers and as status symbols. When the buying stops, so will the killing.
  1. Take control of your purchasing power, do not motivate poachers by purchasing skinned baggage, footwear and like products.
  1. Travel to Tiger Country – Income from tourism at tiger reserves can be critical to building support among local communities for tiger protection. Look for tour operators who focus on sustainable nature travel.

What do you think?

Written by Sanskruti Marathe

An Environment Science postgraduate and working in the field of wildlife conservation for over 4 years. Likes to write and is a voracious reader as well. Strongly believes in 'Equality Above All'.

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