To mark the International Tiger Day, our PM Narendra Modi has released a report titled “Management Effectiveness and Evaluation of Tiger reserves”. With around 3,000 tigers, India has become “one of the safest habitats” for the big cats in the world. The population of tigers in India has increased from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018, a rise of 33 per cent, according to the latest tiger census report.
India has achieved its 2022 target of tiger population in the country. It is a great achievement that India now has 2,967 tigers, declared the All India Tiger Estimation Report. Tigers have now become a topic of interest and issue all over the world. Their reducing number has triggered the government authorities to awaken and take observe. While the government is already taking projects to preserve the crazy pussy-cat, there is something that we as the typical public too have to do.
Hunting and killing of animals have become a form of recreation. Murdering humans is considered a crime. But killing and wiping out an entire genre is hardly given consideration. Like forests, wildlife is also a national resource which not only helps us in maintaining the ecological balance but is also beneficial from economic, recreational and aesthetic points of view.
It was a time when human interference was minimum and the number of wild animals was quite high and there was no problem with their protection or conservation. However, with the expansion of agriculture, settlement, industrial and other developmental activities and mainly due to the greed of man, the numbers of wild animals are gradually decreasing day by day. We must understand that wildlife is a precious gift God has given to this planet.
The term ‘wildlife’ not only caters to wild animals but also takes into account all undomesticated life forms including birds, insects, plants, fungi, and even microscopic organisms. For maintaining a healthy ecological balance on this earth, animals, plants and marine species are as important as humans. Hunting has tradition and the support of very powerful people on its side and with their influence hunting has been left untouched by legislation – the Protection of Animals Act only covers captive and domestic animals. High officials, who are supposed to be the guardians of law, often abuse their powers to shield the rich and powerful. Our country is unique in having a significant number of tigers in the wild, in spite of growing population and resource extraction pressures on their habitat. Tigers are the heritage of our country, evoked in the Vedas, Puranas, and many other kinds of literature for their unparalleled strength and aesthetic beauty.
The destruction of forest coverage by Maoists may be one of the reasons for this decrease. Deaths of wild animals were also reported from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka, and Uttarakhand. No doubt, the World Wildlife Fund, an international agency, is doing commendable work in promoting the protection of wildlife and there is a number of national agencies engaged in the conservation of wildlife.
The population of big cats in the country has risen steadily since falling to its lowest-recorded figure of 1,411 in 2006. PM Modi has rightly said that “Some 15 years ago, there was serious concern about the decline in the population of tigers. It was a big challenge for us but with determination, we have achieved our goals.” A major threat to the tiger is the demand for its body parts. The forest and its wild denizens are an open treasury which cannot be locked up. It is painful to learn about trafficking of body parts of tigers and other big cats.
(The latter part of the Diary will continue tomorrow.)
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)