Posted by: Partha Pratim Patra on
Jun 07, 2010
Yesterday I went to the news stand to pick a few magazines. The shopkeeper handed me a copy of one of the leading weeklies of India. For a minute I could not take my eyes off the cover of the magazine. The cover had a rare picture of a full grown Royal Bengal Tiger. Many of you may be wondering-What is rare about the picture of a full grown RBT-our national animal, the most researched animal in India, the most talked about animal in India? The photograph was that of a Tiger. Its left paw clutched viciously between the jaws of a crude looking gin trap, pain unmistakably visible in its eyes and the Tiger looked totally disheveled. Description of a Tiger is often accompanied by words such as Majestic, Royal, Large-Hearted etc. But believe me none of the preceding words find a match with the features of the Tiger in the picture. Pain, anger and sheer helplessness are all I could see in the eyes of the King of our jungles and truly helpless have become all our Tigers in their own domains. One look at the photograph is enough to evoke in one the sense of guilt that our national animal is in such vulnerable conditions. If the magazine is to be believed, the photograph was taken in one of the tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh. Poachers are killing Tigers right inside our Tiger reserves and national parks which are believed to be the safe heaven for these big cats. Thanks to the insatiable demand for dead Tigers from our neighbor China. It is not only the issue of poaching of our national animal; it is a threat to our food and water security and our very own existence. How can we even think of becoming an Asian major when we are not able to protect our national animal, when we are not able to deal with a neighbor that is threatening our survival with each passing day? How can our economy keep clocking a two digit GDP growth rate when our food and water security is at stake?
The cover story of the weekly is about the undercover sting carried out to unearth the ways of organized crime that Tiger poaching has become today. It also traces the poachers- a whole community which is responsible for most of the Tiger deaths of last decade. Most shocking of all facts is that the administration knows who the real culprits are but has turned a blind eye. When our neighbor causes discomfiture to us in the slightest way we do not hesitate to point a finger, then how can we remain as silent spectators while our national animal, food, water and most importantly our survival are at stake? Does the Tiger have to beg the mercy and sympathy of the ever-non- performing Indian red-tapism? I am sure many of these questions are bound to pop-up in your mind when you see that picture. So far the large-hearted gentleman of Indian jungles has been able to pull through, defying all the prediction of its extinction, but a look at the statistics of last one decade point towards more depressing things to come. Let us see how long does it take for our policy makers and leaders to see things in this light and wake up to the bare reality that only the fittest survives. Are we anywhere close to be or be called fittest?
Note: India Today had carried out an undercover sting operation to access the facts of Tiger poaching business in India, its modus operandi, people involved and its effect on Tiger population in India. See India Today issue of June 7th 2010.