Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright, In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? Well, everybody must have read this poem but have we ever pondered over the message? Tiger, world's most charismatic animal is a severely endangered species. These big cats flutter an aura of mystic charm, profuse fear and the flirtation which humans find truly irresistible. Tourists throng from every state of India and the world just to have one fleeting glimpse of these big cats. But, few know that tigers are shy of humans and they fear men like hell. The tiger in India is said to have migrated from Siberia and with the passage of many ages it has become a species of Indian Diaspora. The Indian tiger then spread into India and assimilated in the thick dense forests and dense forest canopy.
The demand for fuel woods and constant poaching of these majestic creatures lead to the extinction of this species which commands the food chain. Shocking, but one needs to know that before legislation in the year 1971, a hunter could legally shoot this magnificent creature for a paltry sum that ranged anywhere from Rs.10 to Rs.50. This in spite of our five thousand years of civilization which emphasizes tremendous onus on protection and adoration of all life forms on mother Earth! Well, in the beginning of the era of 1970s, a tiger count was conducted across the country which led to the shocking revelation that only 1800 of these splendid creatures were left adorning our country. This jolted the government authorities probably breaking their long lasting sleep with some serious thought into devising plans to save these giant cats. But the alarm bells had started ringing right from legendary Jim Corbett era that numbers of tigers and leopards were dwindling down.
There was a sudden awakening in late sixties when the animal number came down to as low as 2500. Therefore, to stabilize the rapid declining tiger population 'Project Tiger' was launched in 1972. The project was a blessing in disguise as this conservation program brought reprieve to large number of life forms that thrived alongside the majestic tiger. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered that there should be a rapid increase in the protected areas of the country. Protected areas are the ones under the umbrella of Project Tiger and are called Tiger Reserves. As per government instructions minimum human intervention had to take place. More impetus was laid on the conservation of the habitat and its rehabilitation where ever possible. An important fact worth remembrance is that unlike the lion the tiger is not an open country or savanna dwelling animal but is a solitary creature. Therefore, the establishment of protected areas was the right thing to do.
Today, India has good number of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries with a greater degree of protection. Amongst the best managed parks in India are Jim Corbett in Uttranchal, Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Periyar Tiger reserve in Kerela, just to name a few.Sorry to state that the demand for tiger bones in medicine in some countries is the greatest threat to tigers in India and else where.Therefore, wake up folks we need to save these giant cats! But why Save Tiger?Well these majestic beings are gentle giants. This big cat's main purpose is to serve the ecosystem as top carnivore in the food chain. It governs the population of herbivores which are its main prey base. Few are aware of this fact that the tiger's presence in the forest acts as an indicator that the ecosystem is intact. Truly, protection of tiger involves a bit of sentimentality and lot of reality.We need to save these big cats !And Yes, we need to do it for our coming generation and posterity!