Monday, February 1, 2010
At the turn of the 20th century, India had 40,000 tigers in the wild.
In 2002, there were 3,642 and today we are just left with 1,411 tigers, a number so small that they will be gone soon if we don’t wake up to the crisis.
Why do we need to save the tiger, one would ask.
There are bigger issues like poverty, global food shortage, price rise. Why do we have to care about some wild tiger?
To answer this question, one needs to understand that tiger is not just a charismatic species. It’s not just a wild animal living in some forest. The tiger is a unique animal which plays a pivotal role in the health and diversity of an ecosystem. It is a top predator and is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. Therefore the presence of tigers in the forest is an indicator of the well being of the ecosystem. The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.
If the tigers go extinct, the entire system would collapse. For e.g. when the Dodos went extinct in Mauritius, one species of Acacia trees stopped regenerating completely. So when a species goes extinct, it leaves behind a scar, which affects the entire ecosystem. Another reason why we need to save the tiger is that our forests are water catchment areas. If the tiger goes today, the forests will go tomorrow and day after there will be no water in your homes. This is apart from the other natural disasters waiting to happen.
" When we protect one tiger, we protect about a 100 sq. km of area and thus save other species living in its habitat. Therefore, it’s not just about saving a beautiful animal. It is about making sure that we live a little longer, so that this planet can still be home to our children. "
Spreading the word
Go out loud and tell others that tigers are dying and that they need our help. You can form forums (or join existing ones) on the web for discussions and exchange views on tiger conservation.
Reach school going children. WWF can help you in this regard.
Being a responsible tourist
The wilderness is to be experienced and not to be polluted by empty chips packets left there.
Writing to the Honourable Prime Minister
If you are really concerned and feel that more needs to be done for tiger conservation, then write to the Prime Minister, who has shown personal commitment for the cause.
Informing the nearest police station
If you know of any information on poaching or trade of illegal wildlife.
You can also contact TRAFFIC- an organisation fighting the powerful poachers and pass on the information to them.
Reducing pressure on natural resources
By reducing the use of products derived from forests, such as timber and paper.
More Info: WWF-india