Question: What do Goddess Durga, Winnie the Pooh and Jacky Shroff have in common?
Answer: A Tiger.
Personally, I love tigers. Their mesmerizing eyes, their majestic gait, their beautifully patterned stripes, and the striking poise of their face – no matter what their mood, the ferocity, strength and grace of their feline body – especially when they prey, the love with which they care for their little ones… I love everything about them. It’s a happy fact that this species (panthera tigris) is the national animal of the country I am native to.
It goes without saying then, that when in 2006 they announced that their numbers had dwindled as low as 1411 – low enoughto qualify as the “Endangered” category of the WWF, it struck me hard. I saw news flashes repeating that the authorities are making efforts to revive the population, but I was restless because I wanted to do something too! I couldn’t let my favorite wildcat end up as a mere memory! So after extensive research, I came up with a list of practices that each of us can carry out, to #SaveOurTigers…
- Donate you money: This is most convenient for us to do as individuals. Sitting at home, we can fund the various movements and campaigns that promise to help this problem. Every war needs gold and this war against tiger-extinction could use some dough. In India, the leading campaign of this kind is the tie-up between NDTV and Aircel which goes by the label AIRCEL SAVE OUR TIGERS. Started in 2010, this campaign has successfully raised INR 5.81 crores! These funds have been sincerely deployed and made a true impact. You may donate to them here: http://www.saveourtigers.com/WhatCanIDoDonate.php #AircelSaveOurTigers
- Donate your Time: If you are an active member of the society, your time will count more than your money. People from all fields of the society – especially the youth – should volunteer/participate in forest activities for a period of time to devise solutions for real problems such as these. There are many programs that welcome civilian help to take care of the wild, including National Tiger Sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, and a GoEco program. Get out, get involved and get your hands dirty!
- Talk about it! Internet is awesome. One word you type will be read by hundreds, if not thousands. Let’s use this to resonate the roar of the cat… You could write to publishers about any solutions that you have, or if you need any help with your ideas. You could spread awareness by speaking up on public platforms, where many can hear you. Or, you could simply use Facebook statuses and Tweets to let people know that you care, and make them aware. It’s all about making yourself heard, and people will unite without much ado.
- Adopt a tiger: Wouldn’t you love to have your own Hobbes or Tigger? Adoption of tigers is a scheme which the WWF came up with to entrust the care of individual cats to capable humans. It works much the same way as adopting any other pet… You take up the responsibility of the tiger, ensure its well-being and give your love to it. Since it is a naturally wild animal, you are not allowed to take it home for its own good, but you receive all reports of its life and keep a distant watch. It makes for a very warm gesture; the tiger is part of your family now, and no one is allowed to hurt it.
- Make careful cuts: The leading causes of the receding population include poaching and dwindling habitats. For the latter, I am every bit responsible as any criminal. My residential needs, my paper wastage, even my coffee consumption is leading to deforestation. A single tiger needs a much larger space than a human to survive, yet urban expansion has depleted 93% of tiger habitat. It’s not just our houses that replace theirs; it’s also the products we use. If all of us replace our usual morning caffeine with one that is certified as “sustainable”, or start using recycled paper and renewable fuels, an immense impact could be made in tiger conservation.
In the past decade, we have done a good job as a community: for nearly every 3 tigers in 2006, we now have 5. Although it’s a good start, but there are many more stripes to be counted. We can do a lot more as individuals and as communities to serve this cause. Not only is protection of tigers required, but we also need to enhance the quality of their health and life.
In India, the forest care department is under-staffed, undertrained and not managed very well. It is important for the educated and skilled citizens to partake in environmental conservation activities, and dedicate themselves… Perhaps even create careers around it. We all need to act to prevent crimes [Poach peaches, not Animals.] and put political pressure [Sign petitions and litigations].
Let’s work towards something bigger than us, and who knows? Maybe someday, you can say, “I helped save the National Animal!”
About the author:
My name is Tanya Malaiya, and I am a pre-final year Engineering Student currently living in Tamil Nadu. I belong to Indore city of Madhya Pradesh, a state well-occupied with tigers. My first memory of seeing a tiger is at Indore zoo, but my favorite memory is of the beautiful beast I saw in the Kanha National Park, which I visited as a child with my family. If given a chance, I would love to experience loving a tiger first-hand. I hope to someday adopt one.