Tigers Forever: At the beginning of 2oth century, India had 70000-100000 Tigers left in the wild.With the invention of Guns and Colonial Shikar, which local Kings continued and spelled doomed for the striped cat. In 1972 to avert extinction of National Animal ie Tigers the late Prime Minister of India Mrs Smt. Indira Gandhi started Project Tiger. Project Tiger was launched in 1973 with nine tiger reserves covering an area of 16,339 sq.km., which has increased to 37,761 sq.km. in 27 Tiger Reserves. The habitat loss is one single major threat to India’s Wildlife. The fight for land between Widlife and Tribals has also been very critical for decline in Wildlife. Poaching being another grave threat as Tiger are killed for its skin, bones, claws and teeth for eastern markets and it threatens other species like Leopards, Otters and Sloth Bears too.Prey species like Spotted deer, Sambar, Gaur, Nilgai and Wild Boars have declined thanks to habitat loss and poaching, they are ‘fundamental diet of Tigers’.All above discussed threats decimated Tiger numbers to a few hundred, 1411 is the latest figure released to public.It is now or never situation for this big cat and extinction inevitable unless wise decisions backed by scientific studies and protection of Tigers along with their habitats is achieved. We are back to square one; we need a very strong will and fresh initiatives where all Indians get their act together and save this ‘great cat’ from extinction.
text by Asif Siddqu