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Save the Tiger, Save Yourself!!

April 23, 2009

So I will make it really simple for you. Saving Tigers = Saving Forests = Saving the Ecological Balance = Saving Mankind. Got it ?? …No??...Ok let me put it like this. If the Tigers Go, So Do We !

Why the Tiger? Surely we must have better things to do or bigger issues to think about like managing our investment portfolio, promoting literacy and healthcare, fighting terrorism, or maybe even betting on who wins the IPL !!

Yes, after all, how can a larger version of a house cat be on anyone’s priority list, especially in a country like India, with its thousands of ‘more important’ issues. Let me illustrate some facts.

If any of you went to Sariska since the Tigers went out, you would surely have noticed how much the herbivores are flourishing in absence of the tigers. Any direction you turn towards, you are sure to spot either a Chital, Langur, Sambar, Nilgai or even the conspicuous stray cattle. And unfortunately, there is not much forest cover (vegetation) left to block the view. Wow, lot of wildlife, some of us might say, but the writing on the wall is clear. The Park is doomed !!

Now, whether the destruction of the undergrowth is due to overgrazing solely or also due to human felling is anyone’s guess. But surely, without the tiger, it must be so much easier to enter the forest on foot! Ask any one of the tribesmen residing within one of the many villages within the Sariska’s boundary. The government and forest deptt. have been unsuccessfully trying to get these villages to move out for years now!! Subsequently, ‘wildlife’ tourism has gone down to a trickle and local economic development, which was bound to happen if Sariska ever evolved to a commercial success, is now a distant dream. Surely a case of the poachers killing the hen instead of patiently consuming the eggs !!

If the deterioration continues, the state government wouldn’t be left with much to do with 866 sq.km. of barren and brazen land ! And so would also go a prime provider of oxygen and stability to the ecosystem. Don’t expect the planet to last much without its lungs ! And so, every instance like Sariska is drawing us closer to the end (Hopefully, the introduction of two tigers from Ranthambhore into Sariska might turn back the wheel). Forests are like Lungs for Land. And Tigers are the protectors of the Forest.

If you are an astute observer, you might also have noticed the global climate shift, not only in the papers, but also around you! Out-of-season rains and sandstorms, hurricanes and tsunamis at various other locations world over! Recently a major Ice Shelf frozen since millions of years broke away in Antarctica.

We are already seeing evidence of water rising faster than the recorded average and shorelines retreating! This is not normal phenomenon! These are all connected events! If the global environmental balance is lost, all of humanity and its developments may be subject to the fury of nature !

Thankfully, the battle is not lost. There is still hope. Much needs to be done an all fronts to maintain the balance of nature. But, rescuing tigers, and consequentially forests is not a bad start! So, rescue Tigers, not only because our survival depends on it, but also because when our kids read Panchatantra, and ask us who is this ‘King of the Jungle’, we can proudly reply, “Son, I’ll SHOW you next time we visit the jungle!”