January 27, 2010

Save Me, Please


"January 13, 2010: The officials at Jim Corbett National Park have spotted a tiger dead, the fourth since December last year.
January 27, 2010. Another Tiger Found Dead in Corbett National Park in India."

It is sad news again with the announcement today of the death of the fifth tiger within a month. Reading that, I recalled my trip to Uttarakhand's Corbett National Park in February 2008.

Of late, why are tigers dying mysteriously there? I believe no post mortem reports are made available. I wish the information wing of Project Tiger is more transparent.

I can understand that at times tigers die as a result of territorial battles. My mind wandered to the extent of suspecting if lack of adequate food, or for that matter, not providing the right kind of food could also be a reason. Sometimes the reason given by authorities is poisoning or overcrowding. Poisoned? Overcrowded? And yet so-called “protected”?
~~~

Earlier this month, one evening while on my way from Mysore to Ooty, I passed through the National Parks of Bandipur and Madumalai. A narrow road passes right through a dense forest dividing the area into these parks which are Project Tiger Reserves. Two national parks in the same region divided merely by a road through which flows regular vehicular traffic (except from 10 pm to 6 am, I am led to believe). And that road is an inter-state highway of India!

While the sun was getting ready to set and as the sky was turning into a golden hue, I was thinking on the possibility of accidents on such roads, especially after it gets dark, resulting in loss of wildlife. Surely there must be a way to avoid that.

In the vicinity of these ecologically sensitive national parks, many new resorts have come up that can, in one way or the other, damage wildlife over a period of time.

Agriculture has encroached upon tiger habitation. Studies have revealed that the greatest long-term threats to tigers are the loss of habitat and the depletion of its natural prey.

Preserving tigers is a big task indeed. Tiger population is small and dwindling rapidly in spite of them being clearly on top of the food chart.

With Bali, Caspian and Javan already extinct in the last 60 years or so, and the rate at which the other sub-species of Malayan, Caspian, Indo-Chinese, South-Chinese, Siberian, and Royal Bengal are perishing, tigers may be spoken of in the near future as an animal that once existed.
~~~
Tigress at Bandavgarh National Park

I had a good sighting of a tigress walking majestically out of a dense forest towards a water body, quench her thirst for a full six minutes (calculated later from the time recorded on the many pictures on my camera), and then walk authoritatively back into the wilderness.

Photograph courtesy Rory, a fellow safari traveller

That was in December 2007 during a wildlife safari in the Bandavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh. In those days I used to frequent National Parks and felt “great” if I sighted a tiger or any rare species of animals.

Since school days, for reasons unknown to me then, I was never a fan of circuses or in favour of visiting a zoo (what I regard are places where animals are kept in captivity for the "viewing pleasure" of human beings).

These days, having been more educated on the plight of wild animals and upon seeing the way wildlife safaris are being conducted at times, to some extent, I’ve also lost my enthusiasm to go to National Parks.

Only about 4,000 tigers are estimated to be living in the whole world! Let us learn to respect and admire these beauties from afar in their natural habitats.
~~~

I received an email a little while back from a good friend that shocked me. Hence this post. I don’t know the source of the news and am yet to receive more details. A part of it reads:

“It is assumed by some that the skin peeled off a living tiger has more lustre and shine. Believing this to be true, some poachers have now started to inject drugs into illegally captured tigers and then skinned alive while in an unconscious to sub-conscious state!

This is shocking as well as disgusting. I can’t even get myself to hit my pet dog when I need to discipline him and here are people willing to skin tigers alive!

Look at what has happened to the conscience of the humanity! How can we be so insensitive and cruel? Shame on us.”

I was horrified at what I read. It made me think on a number of aspects. Who has done research on what amount of drugs are needed to keep a tiger in an unconscious state? Just when exactly would it come back to a state of semi-consciousness when it would begin to feel the agony of being skinned alive? While in that state, how much of pain and helplessness would that tortured animal feel! To think of the plight of the suffering animal in such a state continues to makes me shudder.

Clearly human beings are responsible for tiger depletion as tigers have been hunted by them since ancient times. According to WWF, tigers are at times “poisoned, shot, trapped and snared, and the majority of these animals are sought to meet the demands of a continuing illegal wildlife trade”.

Grand plans for conservation are being made. Plans sound great, but they serve little purpose until they fall in place. In spite of the national parks and tiger reserves, poaching continues till today. Setting a paltry sum to be paid as penalty for offence is not going to solve the problem. Only imprisonment and severe penalties to offenders, and effective enforcement by authorities would prevent extinction.
~~~

To me, the tiger epitomizes power and splendour, a majestic animal to be respected and admired in its natural habitat.

I certainly do not agree with the belief of some egoistic and insensitive dumbasses that a tiger is a magical symbol with mystical power in its organs. Let those same dumbasses experiment with celery or dark chocolates instead or better still, go fly a kite.


30 comments:

Neeraj said...

India does NOT deserve it's tigers or any of it's wildlife. If we can't take care of it, we have no right to have it.

One day all the forests, birds, wildlife will be GONE and we will have no one to blame but OURSELVES, and that's what we DESERVE!

indicaspecies said...

Neeraj,

I can understand your feelings, but please....don't give up.

It is an universal problem, not just in India. For eg, logging is supposed to be claiming the forests of Sumatra at a rate of five million acres each year, and 70% of logging is illegal.

In the past, tiger populations have bounced back when government restrictions on poaching were strong. When governments do not enforce anti-poaching and habitat destruction laws, tiger populations dwindles.

Let's do something...as soon as possible....if possible today...but before it is too late.

Neeraj said...

I highly recommend reading this blog for the real story on tigers:
http://ranthambhore.blogspot.com/

I think the problem is much bigger than anti-poaching laws and enforcement. The problem is China. China's insatiable appetite for timber is the real driving force behind destruction of forests not only in India and Southeast Asia, but also in the Amazon. There's also big demand for, shall we say "exotic animal products", from China for their traditional medicine.

Mostly tribals live near national parks in India. The tribals, who are practically neglected by the government, and have little to live on and survive will gladly kill a tiger or a leopard for a few thousand rupees.

Anyway, us talking about it or just being optimistic is not going to solve the problem :)

indicaspecies said...

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

As you say, I am sure the problem is much bigger, and not being an authority or expert on this matter, especially not on the socio-economic aspects, I am not able to give you a complete picture. The death of the 5th tiger in a month made me write this small post and I'll do my little bit to spread awareness, whether or not it helps.

I understand your reference to the "exotic animal products". That's why I suggested the use of celery or dark chocolates which are also considered by some to be aphrodisiacs. Dalai Lama has condemned the use of tiger parts in Chinese traditional medicines. Let's hope that also helps in some way.

Mridula said...

I am really disturbed to read this.

indicaspecies said...

Mridula,
Disturbing news indeed.

Vinni said...

Some points that i wanted to highlight.
The Maximum punishment for killing an endangered animal under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. is 7 years of imprisonment plus fine and the last time i read a report in 2009 it said not a single person has got the maximum sentence till date in India!!!! Just shows how serious our Govt. is!!
Most of the Wildlife protection forces are using the same old 1950 fire arms against the poachers who have AK47s.
Back-fill and New recruitment has not taken place for almost 1-2 decades in some of our prestigious National parks!!
We Humans have sadly crossed all limits, if this continues at this rate the day is not far when all National parks will be converted into 5 star luxury resorts.
Very Sad

indicaspecies said...

Vinni,
Thank you for your insight and the valuable additional information.
You are right. Offence punishable with imprisonment for a term from 1-7 years and fine of Rs.6,000 onwards is certainly not enough to deter the offenders. The degree of protection accorded to the wildlife in India is sadly not sufficient.
That is why I wrote hoping for "severe penalties to offenders, and effective enforcement by authorities."

indianhomemaker said...

Shocked and horrified.. and I hope it isn't true, about being skinned while still alive.

I feel the people put in charge of these projects should be really passionate about saving them... and I hate zoos too. Zoos are like tiny cells in a jail where animals can pace and growl and chew at their own skin - because the trauma is unbearable and escape impossible. Imagine an animals bursting with energy trapped in a space where he can barely move!

Zhu said...

Beautiful animals! How sad one was found dead again. These animals are good at surviving in the wild, I would bet that they faced a human threat.

Anonymous said...

Amiable fill someone in on and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you on your information.

indicaspecies said...

IndianHomeMaker,
Thank you very much for dropping by and for your input. I think human beings are the only ones that separate other species into zoos, parks and other enclosures.
I believe NDTV aired that part of news that I blogged about.
Here's an ad which explains a lot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRwOgGn6OmQ

Incidentally, I put up this post before I came across the ad. I hope many more support, speak up, blog or take any proactive stance on saving the tiger.

indicaspecies said...

Zhu,
A total of 5 within one month!
That is too much. Taking the culture of conservation very seriously is the absolute need of the hour.

indicaspecies said...

Dear Anonymous,
If you mean this post has helped you with one of your college assignments you are most welcome. Spread the word around, and all the best.

Trotter said...

Hi Celine! Sorry for the absence, but this starting of the year has been even crazier than usual!

This is a very sad story... Of course, there is something probably more troublesome occurring in Haiti, but those who are poaching tigers won't mind with the people there also...

Blogtrotter 2 is departing Miami by sea. Hope you like it and have a great week!!

indicaspecies said...

Gil,
I do not want to compare the two tragedies to figure out which one is more troublesome.
However, being in the legal field, you might be interested to know that but for the intervention of the Supreme Court of India far fewer tigers would have survived into the 21st century. I hope there will be a greater constituency of supporters for the tiger who will work with more vigour for its survival.

hitch writer said...

I ll copy what I wrote on IHM and add a lil more.. :

Imagine the project tiger began in 1973 and yet in almost 45 years the progress has been really slow and bad… !!!

Remember that show on Door darshan ?? thats when the love affair with this particular cat began… !!!

Watching the Tiger is totally theatrical… a tiger’s territory is approx 10-12 sq kilometer, it is not social and so alone… when he sits the jungle is quiet but the moment he gets up and starts moving, a barking dear or a parrot or a monkey start alerting the jungle… they alert each other… that he is on the prowl… ! that difficult it is for him to hunt… !

depending upon the call while watching you try to trace the tiger… ! you wait once you reach the spot … sometimes for hours… without a noise… the jungle goes quiet… the call keeps moving… !!!!!

suddenly a langoor on a tree just near your jeep gives a call… and you know he is near… camouflaged… walking carressing the tall grass and gently moving…

as he breaks out from the hedge and comes out on the road… you realise… all pictures, all zoo tigers all videos you saw so far…. we wrong… this is one Huge cat…. about 10 to 12 feet long… head to tail.. ! his head so huge it can probably swallow a small pig in one go… !!!!

He moves slowly his whiskers alert… and what I learn is most of the people who watch him from real close quarters are literally shaking in their boots… !!!!!

Watch a lion in the wild, a polar bear or a grizzly bear… nothing compares… this is one animal you want to watch in the wild… !!!!!

do you also know.. there are perhaps only two video’s that exist that actually have a tiger making a kill… !!!!! in most video’s you will see him run and next instant the kill is in his mouth… but never making the actual kill unlike the lion and cheetah videos we see… !!!!!

Its elusive its the MOST Special cat … !!!!! Sigh…

that apart... regarding skinning it alive.. for a logn time I used to think the zoos serve one purpose.. they take care of injured cats who might not survive in the jungle.. and I used to false myself in believing atleast it wouldnt be poached... !!! atleast it is alive... !!!!

however a few years back tigers in hyderabad zoo were skinned alive.. yes in the zoo in the night... and one tigress that wasnt was so shocked she didnt eat for 3-4 days... !!!!!

trauma... !!!!!

if that doesnt tell you the heartless ness of humans nothing ever will... !!! we are the beasts... not them... !

indicaspecies said...

Dhiren,

First of all, thank you for dropping by and leaving behind an introspective comment.

Progress has been really slow and bad? I guess it was not so initially. If the figures are to be believed, the reserve areas were increased from 9 in 1973 to 28 or so by 2006 and there was an initial increase in the tiger population in those areas because of the recovery of the tiger habitat until early 90s.

Then what happened? Our wildlife treasures were left in the hands of custodians, some of whom have allowed systematic plunder. We are living in an age when, unfortunately, forest and wildlife laws are at times tinkered with to enable quick environmental clearances for so called “development” projects.
Fortunately there are as many supporters of Tiger Project as there are enemies of nature. At least I'd like to believe so. These days, thankfully, a lot more effort is being put into saving this majestic cat. So I still have hope.

As to zoos, I can’t get myself to think of the pathetic state in which some of them were (or probably are being) maintained. What can I say about the ghastly Hyderabad zoo incident? No words can accurately reflect my anguish. Exploitation at its worst!

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Hi Celine !! This is a post i really appreciate !! I have applied for the club membership of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve where their aim is to save tigers....Thanks for sharing..

Anonymous said...

wonderful post. This reminded me of a speech by a young girl at a environment summit urging the world leaders to ACT NOW !!!

"You are what you do, not what you say."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwVmSoUVlBw

Trotter said...

Hi Celine! Are you referring to the 2005 Supreme Court decision on the Corbett Tiger Reserve or is it anything else?

Blogtrotter 2 is cruising with the Liberty of the Seas. Hope to read you there and have a great weekend!!

Anonymous said...

Brim over I acquiesce in but I about the post should secure more info then it has.

Goli said...

I read your blog, but do you have any concrete suggestions to stop poarching? I think most of the damage is done to Wild Life by us who are keen to drop in to National parks and do safaris and disturb the wild life. Recently there was a survey done by one group in bangalore on Bandipur and it said that lot of wildlife gets killed by the speeding buses, and sadly most of this are corporate buses who want to take their employees to see forest and teach about conservation. funny it is.

I guess if any one is curious on doing something then we shoudl rather stop going to national parks and reserves. That would solve half the problem.
The other half government is taking care.

indicaspecies said...

Unseen Rajasthan: Bharat,
Good to hear that.
Do let me know if Ranthambore has the concept of adoption of tiger. By adoption, of course, I mean to make payment for its upkeep, and I am quite aware it's not to take home the tiger.
I'll email you separately on this. Cheers.

indicaspecies said...

Anonymous,
I wish you had left your name behind. Thank you for your comment and for sharing that link. That, from a child, was impressive!

indicaspecies said...

GMG: Gil,

I was talking generally. Lately, there have been encouraging instances when the courts have taken up issues and decided in favour of saving the environment.

For example, just last year, upgradation of a new highway and further construction of a new stretch of road passing through a critical Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh (Central India) was put on a "stay" order by the Supreme court until an alternative route for that stretch is being (was) made. Considering that the decision has been instrumental in avoiding damage to a certain part of environment and tiger conservation in particular, I think it is commendable.

indicaspecies said...

Anonymous 2,

Please rephrase your incomprehensible comment. Thank you.

indicaspecies said...

Goli,

I can't opine on how much damage is done by us to wildlife but, as my post indicates, I certainly think that "human beings are responsible for tiger depletion."

My suggestion to avoiding poaching is also incorporated in my post, i.e., "imprisonment and severe penalties to offenders, and effective enforcement by authorities."
Better conservation efforts and protection of habitat by setting aside designated areas for their survival would certainly help. Moreover better trained and properly equipped forest guards, who are also well motivated to protect, would also improve the situation.

Regarding death by speeding buses in Bandipur, it is very sad but am sure the figures of such deaths of tigers are very low. Perhaps in some case unavoidable, for eg, accidents occuring in the night when visibility is low. Don't forget that that road passes right through the Bandipur National Park. But if you mean such incidents have occcurred inside the national park, it is no excuse. As far as I am aware, the wildlife in Bandipur is taken care of relatively well.

As written in my post, this time I have only "passed through the national parks of Bandipur and Madumali" and did not stop like I used to do on previous occasions. And there was no choice but to pass by as I was on my way from Mysore to Ooty and that is the state highway connecting the two cities.

With regard to visits to national parks, I am quite aware of how much of vehicle and noise pollution is caused with the way wildlife safaris are held these days. If tourism disturbs the wildlife, and banning jungle tourism is the solution, I am fully in favour of it.

I am not sure if closing down the national parks completely is a good idea. If you would like to voice out the reaons for your suggestion with regard to the same, you are welcome to share your views here.

Thank you for dropping by and your interesting comment.

Merisi said...

Thank you for this post!
I hope with all my heart that tigers can be saved in time.

indicaspecies said...

Merisi,
Thank you for your heartfelt good wishes for the tigers.