We all echo the Down To Earth (dte) editor's feelings in "Let the tiger roam" (Down To Earth, August 31, 2005, Vol 14, No 7). What the Tiger Task Force suggests, if implemented, could go a long way in protecting the big cats.
Project Tiger was hailed as the saviour of tigers as it created space for them. Just because Sariska Tiger Reserve is a bad example doesn't mean all tiger conservation efforts in other parks have failed. Each sanctuary has to be treated independently. What is good for one might not be good for the other.
My personal experience, after seeing all the well-known tiger sanctuaries in the country, is that people would like to co-exist with the wildlife. It's the black sheep among the people and the park staff, and poachers, that bring a bad name to tiger conservation. There is no alternative but to improve the quality of the forest guards, train them and motivate them to develop a love for wildlife.
We have to make people stakeholders in protection. How this could be done is a matter of deep understanding of the psyche of those who matter
D B N Murthy
I have a few comments.
Firstly, the case for the tiger is already lost. The sooner that is realised the better it will be for the exchequer -- unless there are extraneous lobbies to satisfy.
Modernisation involves land-use change and sets in motion economic variables larger than trying to bandage local wounds. In a centralised system of government, and in a society where feudalism (and all its attendant elements) still runs rife, the notion of empowerment of local communities is a pipedream. Hope (if any) lies possibly in engineering a larger migration to urban centres and a gradual vacating of farmlands -- to create wild open spaces. I constantly need to remind champions of the tiger it is a free-ranging large carnivore whose autoecology is already hopelessly altered; so even this solution may be a pipedream.
I worry very little about problems created by internal human populations. My issues are more with fancy notions of selling wildlife tourism bringing in its wake mimic African-style 'lodge' facilities that skew the local economy and bring in their wake demands for additional infrastructure that prompt further land-use change in an already rapidly degenerating ecological scenario. I also am willing to not listen to the argument on 'beefing up' local weaponry.
I take issue with the dte editor's naivete in believing tigers and people can co-exist. In a country where local governance efforts are infantile and democratic functioning an absolute hilarity, I don't really believe true inclusive governance in tiger reserves can actually evolve.
I don't mean ill-will. I feel there is a serious need to avoid delusion.
Those who feel the dte editor has never seen a tiger are the people who do not understand a very simple fact: a poacher may watch a tiger several times, but that doesn't give that criminal the right to become the chairperson of the Tiger Task Force.
K N Bhatt
G B Pant Social Science Institute
Apropos the unfortunate comments from certain quarters mentioned in 'Let the tiger roam', criticism and critics are but offshoots of democracy. Breaking the logjam and and understanding that conservation is an inclusive process is key. Dialogue is necessary with people who share the tiger habitat.
In 'Discontent' (Down To Earth, August 31, 2005, Vol 14, No 7), the lead photograph is erroneously credited to Surya Sen. The error is regretted.
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PICK OF THE POSTBAG
Mouthpiece of politicians
I was attracted to the credibility of dte's editor when I first heard of the campaign against the Colas. My subscription to dte was a reasonably satisfactory experience. But I am aghast, after reading the editor's suggestions on saving the tiger. It reads like a novice's exercise in wildlife preservation. I wonder if the editor has gone around forests and seen their plight. The few left are pillaged by poachers and encroachers, and are become the abode of an ever-multiplying population. Instead of tigers and wildlife, we will soon have tribals with arrows and transistors blurting 'Radio Mirchi'!
Your exercise of tribal resettlement in the garb of 'Save the Tiger' is a real piece of mockery, a most pathetic and disheartening attempt to please a beleagured Prime Minister to cling on to the tribal vote in the next elections. The editor will be remembered as a person who acted more as a stooge of politicians. It is time the editor changed gear and made a concerted effort to save the tiger.
V P Taneja
Salisbury Park Environment Trust, Pune
1970 to 2005
There is, as usual, leeway for many divergent rational views, so I don't see why there should be any personalised criticisms. The Tiger Task Force report is meticulous and methodical homework, and provides a good base for thinking out solutions.
In 1970, I -- along with M Krishnan, Zafar Futehally and others -- worked hard to put together the 1970 Expert Committee Report, which grew downstream into the department of environment and the Wildlife (protection) Act 1972, and many other statutes. This 2005 report has certainly helped me a lot in updating my thinking on conservation issues, since that time.
I am obsessive, if still rational, in my commitment to what I call the 'wildlife template' of India -- even Gaia, in terms of the wilderness, mountains, forests, jheel s and lakes! Yet, the 'human template' is equally rational and equally important. The two must be harmonised.
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