Tiger – A Predator who once roared

I turned the key in the lock, the door opened and I crashed on the Bed, tired & extremely exhausted a typical trait of us most Mumbaikars. Suddenly my grandfather spoke to me,” Have you ever seen a Bed Bug? No, I answered in the negative.

Hmn he said it’s a species which has become extinct to your generation. Every generation invents something and some things just blur into oblivion. The word generation lasted a while in my mind. Unconsciously I started taking a stock of the things that we as a generation have gained and lost. We gained speed, instant coffee, noodles, pizzas, social networking sites…phew the list was enormous… when I started to look at the lost things funnily my mind wandered to the Bed Bug my grandfather was referring to. Indeed haven’t seen bed bugs for a while. My string of thoughts was suddenly stopped by the TV commercial. It should a tiny little tiger cub wandering about in the forest, deprived of its natural habitat, food and most importantly whereabouts of its mother. The ad proclaimed only 1411 tigers left in India, we need to save the tigers. Suddenly the future played in my mind, its was me talking to a 4 year old kid, perhaps my son, telling him a story, once upon a time, there was a animal named Tiger’. That thought jerked me into reality. Was our national animal really going the Red bug way or to be more precise as extinct as a DODO?

My mind drifted to my encounter with the magnificent predator many years ago. With its golden yellow stripes, gleaming eyes, a boisterous roar and a panache that oozed royalty in its every move. Along with that I also remember the crowd trying to irk and anger the tiger, after all it was helpless behind bars, being put on display to entertain a unruly crowd which inundated him with catcalls and all sorts of distractions. I still wonder had the tiger not been caged would the people behaved the same way?

Probably not. Being in the travel industry I am used to prepare packages that involve various parks prominent for its tiger sightseeing. Jim Corbett in Uttrarakhand, Kanha,Bandhavgarh and Pench national parks in Madhya Pradesh,. Tadoba sanctuary nearer home in Maharashtra, Periyar in Kerala (although its more habituated by the pachyderms) Nagarhole in Karnataka. I have seen the clients being exited when they see the elusive tiger. It’s a all time high to watch a tiger unleash its full glory while hunting for a prey. However the sad truth today remains that Tiger poaching is ranked highest among India with every minute poachers inventing newer ways to kill the tigers.

In the pre british era tiger hunting was a royal sport, with the number of tiger’s killed got the warrior brownie points and put him on the ultimate pedestal of bravery and glory. With the advent of the British rule, the Tiger hunting gained momentum with new weapons and methods of trapping the animal. Although India had a healthy flourish of tigers, the discovery of the tigers body parts as a medicinal property led to poaching on a large scale. Tigers were mercilessly killed by poachers for as low as Rs 5000 per tiger and handed over to middlemen who sold it for a more profitable sum.

Wildlife conservationists and naturalists like Valmik Thapar, Belinda Wright, Dr.Latika Nath Rana, Nanda Rana etc have been over the years tirelessly pursuing the cause of the tigers. Although government has formed laws to protect the Tiger, still the machinery falls short of armoury to protect the endangered species. Belinda Wright, who heads the Wildlife Protection Society of India,(WPSI) pointed out through the survey of her organization that poachers use electrocution to kill animals. Electrocution is the easiest way to kill elephants, tigers and leopards in the wild. All they have to do is steal electricity from an overhead line by hooking a wire and then laying a live line across an animal track. Although suggestions have been made to provide insulation to the wires running through the forests, no efforts are seen to this effect. The recent campaign on saving the Tiger has generated quite a buzz but its not enough. We need a definite roar but not the effect should not be only sound but definitive action.Shoot the Tiger but use your Camera not the Gun……otherwise we will have a famous fable for the generation next, Once upon a time in India there lived the Tiger……

Neha H Prabhu

Image Source:[http://news.cnet.com/i/bto/20080118/tiger_540x315.jpg]