The big cat is facing a threat of extinction. The tiger count in India has dropped alarmingly from a 3642 in 2007 to 1411 in 2008. And the state with the least number of tigers is Uttar Pradesh, with an all-time low figure of 109. The report was released by NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) and has triggered a quick altercation between the Uttar Pradesh Government and the environmentalists. To lace the cake, officials from the UP Government vehemently state that the NTCA has supplied wrong figures and claims to have a tiger count of 273, the same figures that they held in 2005.
India’s tiger population is at the brink of extinction due to serious issues of poaching, shrinking of forest areas due to industrialisation, erosion of habitat, mining activities and urbanisation. Figures in Rajasthan claim that on an average, 30 tigers die every year with a ratio of 40:60 (40 die due to natural causes and 60 are killed by poaching). Moreover, the shrinking habitat with less than 4 percent of forest area as against their required 33 percent is one of the major reasons for this current threat that the species is encountering. With this impending threat, the population has woken up to the possibility of losing the wild cats forever. Several campaigns are being launched in leau of this and citizens are doing their part in promoting consciousness and awareness regarding this tragedy. NDTV has undertaken a massive Save the Tiger campaign, which has managed to get a large membership. Several institutions are promoting awareness within their student body regarding this issue. The youth is proactively taking a part in this movement to save the prestigious animal. However, it might be too late. With a drastic drop in the tiger count, possibilities of saving the cat might not bear fruit. Without stringent protection laws and adequate investigation and punishment within the poaching industry, the survival of the tiger is questionable. Animal cruelty still persists with respect to trained professionals mistreating the tigers and often injuring or killing them. The issue is a complex one and small agitations or campaigns can do little to save the beasts. However, even a small step is a step nonetheless. The government should wake up to this catastrophe and implement rules and regulations that can have a sustainable effect in preserving this dying breed. Tigers are a prestige to our national heritage. It would be a shame to see them wither away due to our own ignorance, negligence and greed. Shayoni Sarkar
[Image Courtesy – http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/1765000/images/_1768316_tiger2.jpg]