Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tiger conservation in India

I just read on the newspapers today that India has rejected World Bank aid for tiger conservation. The report said that while the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests was interested in accepting the aid the wildlife conservationists were opposed to it! Basically the aid "was to be given for improving the livelihood security in some States," says the report and the conservationists say that it is unacceptable to accept the conditions that come with the aid like all the contracts would be given to American consultants. Further some conservationists allege that the World Bank tiger conservation initiative was not inspiring enough.

Fine! What is more worrying is the fact that India's own initiatives in tiger conservation has not been much successful over the years! Ultimately it is the 'master hunter' that is left to suffer! Consider this: According to the figures of The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) many tigers were lost either due to poaching or natural deaths! But the stick point was postmortems or proper investigations were not conducted in these cases! Further the figures of dead tigers provided by the NGOs and the States does not match. In 2009-10 NGOs claim 84 tiger deaths while the States put the figure at 59 (till November 2009). However, this might change with the National Tiger Conservation Authority launching a new website that intends to have online a consolidated database on tiger population, wildlife crime on animals within the tiger reserve.

I am not condemning the Government for rejecting the World Bank aid for tiger conservation; the conservations might be right as they are the ones who work on ground zero but the fact remains that the work of the Government and the NGOs does not stop with mere 'no' for 'outside tiger conservation funds' but work together in a systematic and effective way for tiger conservation! Finally, it the tigers that would be directly impacted by these efforts!

The next lunar year will be the Chinese year of the Tiger and conservationists in India are worried that this could increase the poaching of tigers for its skins and body parts in India. There is a flourishing illegal trade for tiger skins and its body parts in China as it is largely used as decorative items in furniture and and its body parts used in Chinese medicines. And there is increasing poaching activities in India to meet this burgeoning market!

Unless there is some concerted effort on the part of the Government and NGOs in conserving India's pride the tiger population, the survival of this majestic work of nature will be a serious cause for concern! Please, preserve the tiger, for tigers' sake!!