Yes, that’s right! There are 1,411 tigers left in India.
Well, I suppose the figure is symbolic as who can be sure if it’s 1,400 or 1,450? However, the bottom line is that there are not many left at all. A century ago India had 40,000 tigers, now it has come down to a miserable 1411! There is not much hope for the Indian tiger.
Throughout India huge placards have been erected on the sides of the road and there are also frequent television commericals to remind us.
The problem is that the tigers’ natural habitat has been so eroded by logging and burning that really there is nowhere for them to live happily. Their natural food has been depleted due to diminishing territory (it has been proven that for the most part tigers prefer to eat larger rather than small animals – and their territory has been diminished too). So it follows that in order to get a meal a tiger has to hunt where it can, and this more often than not, means poaching livestock from farmers.
It is forbidden to kill tigers but it does happen that farmers kill them and at present there is such a court case in Goa, where in early 2009 a villager killed and burnt a tiger which had been killing livestock. The forestry department has made a big issue of this killing and is prosecuting it to the full extent of the law.
The Navhind Times in Goa expressed beautifully and succinctly the deeper meaning behind the fate of the tiger in its editorial dated 10th February, 2010, titled ‘Living with Tigers’. I quote –
Saving the tiger means saving humanity. The tiger is a symbol of the protection of all species on our earth since it is at the top of the food chain. Saving tigers means saving the animals the tiger lives on, such as buffalo and deer.
As these animals live on plants, saving them for the tiger means saving the forests. And saving the forests means more oxygen in the atmosphere, protection of soil and storage of rain water, which are necessary for the survival of man.
Thus, saving tigers means saving humanity. If tigers are not there, our future generations won’t be there.”
Of course, the tiger is under threat everywhere. The Siberian tiger is equally, if not more endangered than the Indian tiger due to poaching and to illegal logging in Siberia. Tigers in South East Asia have lost their homes due to the burning of jungles to make way for palm oil plantations and everywhere the tiger is poached for the Chinese herbal market. It is an horrendous thought that anyone would still (or ever, for that matter) hunt such a regal and magnificent animal for any reason.
However, we must not forget why the tiger is at risk. As with so many endangered species, we have taken their land, their forest and their food. We exploit them for their skins and their bones. We take everything and give nothing in return. Unfortunately it could be too late before we find out what that means for mankind.
See another person’s opinion at http://www.bharathreddy.info/india-has-just-1411-tigers-left-to-save/