In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
-The Tiger, William Blake
Good old Hobbes, who had embraced an air of obscurity along with Calvin, would be perhaps wondering about the fate of his species at the hand of humans. Wavering at the brink of a dismal demise, the species is threatened by the impending doom. It’s an irony that the land which is home to second largest human pool has only 1411 tigers (From around 40,000 at the turn of the last century). The national animal of India, has been a soft prey for poachers and in 2009 alone India lost 86 tigers.
The ever receding Tiger paw counts make for a sorry figure. Let’s put in an effort to save the big cat for the generations to come. For if we fail, the stakes are too high, Tiger should not meet an inevitable fate like Dodo.
You may dismiss my recommendations as being that of a canine but think deep within; had man done enough my need wouldn’t have arrived! So here I voice what I consider may well be the probable solutions, you are free to comment and recommend your viewpoints.
The illegal trade in poached skins between India, Nepal & China has been a cause of critical concern; the governments in question have put up a dismal effort by enforcing action at regional or domestic level and thus negating the gravity of the issue. The UN recognizes wildlife crime as a form of transnational crime of a serious nature with significant negative economic & social implications. Any crime against an endangered species must be given proper attention and investigation, for we are already dealing with the specimens of a once gloriously reigning species.
1. Marking up the wages of Security personnel: Let’s face it, everyone dances when money speaks and security personnel are no different in this morally challenged time henceforth it seems justified to pay them a sound remuneration for the expected levels of professionalism.
2. Another initiative can be to educate the poachers in the jail to become conservationists for they know how they got into the trade, the loopholes in the machinery, judiciary and security measures.
3. We have the money to spend on infrastructure so much so that even chief ministers get their stone scriptures during their lifetime then would it hurt the budgetary to spend a wise penny on modern gadgets for trapping poaching and enhancing the guards with modern measures to counter Poachers & Co.
4. Make yourself heard- letters to the editor, social media, TV, blogs etc. At a time when changing hairdos and silicon implants make for prime time news, Tigers need to have their say!
5. Informing the nearest police station in case of any information regarding any illegal activity concerning the wild life. Indian Govt.’s Project Tiger initiative.
The other burning question- Who can make a difference?
I propose hiring retired army officials to head the cause. The recruits under them must be adorned with arsenal to combat poachers.
Despite repeated reminders and road signs to limit speed while traversing in animal zones, the reckless vehicles lead to untimely demise of many animals. Tourism comes bundled with responsibility. The reserves should have boundaries that actually wards off the illegal thoroughfare and there must be bench strength of optimum number of guards in every reserve at a time for any emergency.
Coming down to the finances, it should not be a tough nut to crack given the expenditure patterns of law makers and the state of the nation.
When our politicians come out with scams of over 600 crores with smiling faces, then we can at least spend a 100 crores on wildlife conservation. A pregnant sum is being spent on Commonwealth Games. A little push for animals wouldn’t burn the pockets of the political power players.
Corporate tie ups with NGOs, forest ministry can also help in raising the cash. Aircel’s CSR campaign has launched a website which will be instrumental in propagating and disseminating information about saving tiger. It urges people to be informed and create buzz across all forums like blogging, writing on facebook, twitter and writing letters to the editors of newspapers. It has also created a platform where people can donate money to NGOs working relentlessly for the cause.
Sniffer dogs—with their remarkable sense of smell—are increasingly becoming part of a global effort to help stop illegal wildlife trade and save tiger. In 2008, WWF-India along with TRAFFIC India pioneered the training of a task force of daring dogs to sniff out wildlife contraband like tiger bones, elephant tusks and rhino horn to help catch poachers and smugglers involved in trade of animal parts.
This is where social media and the likes can be of immense help. Picture this; media can lure people into spending as much as Rs. 5 per SMS for the reality TV but can TV get any real than this? We aren’t talking about the elimination of some page N celebrity from the reality show but the existence of the big cat, the Tiger!