Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Guest Post -- Tiger Tales

Here is another Guest Post, this time around it is about saving our tigers. This post is by Gitu, who turns out to be a really good friend of mine, an ardent wildlife enthusiast, animal lover and voracious reader.

Tiger Tales

Hi all! :)

This is my first Guest Post, thanks to Sandy girl, and its about a subject I'm very passionate about. A serious post and that is such a welcome change. By the time Sandy publishes it, their numbers would've dwindled to lesser than their much publicised 1411, but I guess we should just keep trying harder.

Only 1411 left, of the majestic Indian tiger. Speak up, blog or donate!

I am doing my bit here; least that I can, hoping to make some difference.

I support the cause, because I truly believe that this animal, who we rightly call the king of the jungle, is definitely worth it. I have not had many tiger encounters, in fact, I must say, I have not had any, face to face. But I’ll tell you how close I have gotten to it.

We were trekking in the Western Ghats, a little into the core forest, on foot. There was this huge tree, one of the deciduous ones, with big trunks. At a height of about eight feet from the ground, a pair of paws had dug into the bark, and torn it under the path it had traced. Imagine that perfectly made creature on its hind legs, marking its territory, and roaring so loudly, the entire forest trembles. Just hearing that roar, trust me, would send a chill down your spine. You can hear it even if you are standing over ten kilometres away. And after the tiger roars, you can hear a pin drop. Even the winds stop blowing. If you are close enough, you might even feel the earth shake mildly.

I read somewhere that nobody, not even a human, can roar with such intensity. Our lungs are just not as well equipped. They are hard to spot. Unless they allow themselves to, that is. After all these years, I have never spotted one in the wild. They command respect. One too many times, we have stumbled across tiger kills, fresh kills and decaying ones, the hunted, almost always as big, or bigger than the hunter. They do not hurt humans, except if it is a man eater in question. In fact, we never know how many times we might have walked past one, and not known it. That is one strange phenomenon about the forest, every step you take, you would feel a hundred hidden eyes following your every move. I have never felt more vulnerable, or humbled, in all my life.

A lot of us would wonder, why on earth do the WWF and Aircel give us tiger stats? I mean, how on earth can people like you and me, cushioned in some metro, save the tiger? And, hell, why should we?

Tigers are territorial-Each tiger’s territory may span hundreds of square kilometres. When these territories diminish, gradually, across the fringes, man-tiger conflicts occur. And sooner or later, the tiger may start devouring cattle, and get itself trapped and killed. Another tiger would claim the same territory, and history would repeat itself.

Why bother?

Every human being must take alarm because, forests are our lifeline. Once we trekked along the Aliyar dam, to the place of origin of the river. You wouldn’t believe it, it is a small, sprinkling fountain. If the canopy of trees above disappeared, the origin might just dry up. I was at a talk given by Mr Dattatri, renowned conservationist. He had mentioned that, at the rate at which we were responding to these crises, a world war can be predicted, not between nations, but between humans themselves. Within families, friends, neighbours. For things that we take for granted these days- air and water, which are supremely necessary for the very basis of survival.

A call to save the tiger, is a call to save the forests, their only habitat. This in turn is an opportunity for us to save our own skins. The idea of the ‘next generation’ facing the brunt is passé. There might be no next generation, at the rate at which we are conducting ourselves. You and I cannot go hunting poachers down. But we can definitely do our bit towards keeping the forests intact. It is all a matter of strength in numbers. And, please, never ever say, ‘What difference can I make?’. You never know.

Our resources are depleting. When people say, reduce, reuse and recycle, they mean it. Next time you brush your teeth, make an effort to close the tap when you don’t need the water. Harvest rain water. Recycle used water, for washing your vehicle or filling the flush tanks.

When demand reduces, supply would too, automatically. Same goes for paper. Never ever waste it. Recycle it, whenever possible. And please, say no to plastic. You get this sense of accomplishment when you walk out of a store carrying your purchase in your hand, after refusing the carry-bag, ‘No, no plastic, thank you’. Bless the electricity, save it. And the fuel; you would have heard it all from varied sources, so I wouldn’t bore you anymore. I just want to emphasise, again, when you save the forests, and all the inhabitants, you save yourself. We humans are selfish, let us do this now, for our own sakes!

- Gitanjali


vsk said...

Lovely - not just the language but the sheer passion for the tiger. You are right, Gitu. Let's do our bit and not worry about whether it will make a diff. I detest the cliched saying I hear so often - "too little too late". My repsonse to this is usually unprintable.

All the best


Deepz said...

Just one word- Extraordinary !

vEnKy said...

I thought the Lion was the "king of the Jungle"

The are quite a few man eating tigers in sunderbans. This is because of the man- tiger conflict. And you rightly emphasised it.

The problem is many people depend on the forest. Esp people who live near the sunderbans. Their livelihood is from honey which they extract from the forest.

Once a tiger becomes a man- eater then there is no choice but to kill it. Because it is incurable like rabies.

By saving air, water, electricity and saying no to plastic I indirectly protect forest and by that not only tiger i also save other species.

In that why cant we name the project "save the forests". I really dont know how i am gonna contribute by blogging.

None the less a really good post well done gitu

Kenny said...

'Recall value' is what does the trick here followed by a realistic plan and action.aircel/wwf is doing a good job here knocking at the door of our conscience and reminding us of the brand 'Tiger'...well its a thought and a strong one at that ,representing not only tiger but also pointing out at the pathetic outlook towards the biodiversity as such.
The recent 100cr sanctioned by union minister jairam Ravi for rehabilitation of the village falling under project tiger area is a welcome sign , but the issue here is not whats been alloted but the achievement of desired outcome.Hope the crores dont endup filling the never ending pockets of the so called 'officials'.

Keep up the good work and spread the message ,its high time we do that...hope we dont end up talking about tigers in pasttense .


gitanjali.j said...

@ Venky:
Hey, well said! But it should be noted that men depended and co-existed with forests and animals, since I don't know when. All this hungama is suddenly on the forefront, because, now, man thinks he owns the forest; the original sharing and co-existing thought has vanished.They might have extracted honey a century ago too, but they never conflicted with tigers then!
And I thing it is called project tiger because it is more tangible, its just a matter of opinion, anyway :)
And yeah, the lion IS the king of the jungle :) missed it there :)