Today is 18th November. 46 years ago on this day the tiger was declared the National
Animal of India. The then Prime Minister of Indira Gandhi played a key role in
conferring the status at a time when wild tiger numbers in India reached a new low.
But key question that remains unanswered -has the situation improved after nearly 5
decades? May be in pockets or some tiger reserves where tourism demands that tigers be
protected but outside those reserves? Well ever-increasing conflict scenarios like the
grim tales of Avni or Lalgarh tiger continuously paint a dismal picture of tiger
conservation in the country.
As we speak, we all know that fewer than 4000 tigers are left in the wild (2200 around
being in India as per latest census)but those who are left are struggling everyday to
survive . Tigers need forests and wild habitats to survive but with need for more and
more land , the habitats are being taken away. When a tiger moves , they are known to
walk miles to find new territory where they can find prey, water or may be a
partner. It is these long “walks” which is bringing them in conflict with humans and their
settlements and we all know who gets the precedence! With more than 100 deaths in the
last two years 2016 and 2017 and already 80 recorded this year, situation is worse than
it seems. Need for a tiger corridor remains on paper only as railway tracks, road
networks and river linking threaten the very existence of core habitats .
I won’t write anything but leave with you with a video of a tiger walk along the banks of
Sunderbans -one of the prime tiger habitats of India.
See it and make up your mind- what do you prefer? A tiger that walks miles with eyes
glued to its majestic gait or a tiger that lies motionless on the ground waiting for a slow
death! Choice is yours to make
-Suddhasattwa Das and Niladri Kundu.