Monday, December 19, 2005

The Extinct Royal Bengal Tiger?

David Orr of the Telegraph Newspaper in London had an interesting piece yesterday on the Indian Tiger. The national census of tigers is scheduled for next month. However, a recent survey by the non-profit "Wildlife Trust of India" revealed that there were few or no tigers left in at least six of the country's main reserves. While the Government estimates a tiger population of 3,500 tigers in India, the unofficial survey revealed that the figure might be as low as 1,500. Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh had a tiger population of 61 in 2002. This has declined to just one today. 32 Royal Bengal Tigers were reported in Buxa in West Bengal in 1997. None is thought to remain today. The tiger has now disappeared from reserves in Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Rajasthan.

It is projected that the tigers would be completely wiped out in ten years given the current rate of decline. I hope that this will not be the case. The decline in the tiger population is attributed to increased poaching to meet the highly lucrative demand for tiger skins, teeth and bones in China and Tibet. Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India highlighted the complete denial on the part of the Government which seems incapable to address the issue.

The Cheetah was indigenous to India. It became extinct in the Indian subcontinent in the last century. Timely action is needed to ensure that the Royal Bengal Tiger does not meet the same fate. The Indian elephant - also known as the Asian elephant - is dwindling in numbers as well.

India should breed tigers in captivity as in Thailand. There needs to be a carefully thought out program to then reintroduce tigers into the wild. The precedent exists in Africa. Perhaps the same could be done with regards to the Cheetah. The Government needs to set up a wild life crime bureau. The maximum penalty needs to be imposed on poachers. A 20 year prison sentence would be appropriate given that the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger is a national heritage. May be its time to fire India's wild life authorities and recruit international experts better equipped to advice the Government. It is indeed a shameful and pathetic record in wild life conservation.


doubtinggaurav said...


A related issue is the dilemma of environment preservation versus livelihood and traditional rights of tribals on the forest.

If, tourism in India can be encouraged and tribals community made a partner, it will go a great way to settle this issue.


Anonymous said...

this is not about tribals but about city middlemen making a killing. Stiff deterrants are the answer.


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