Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Saving Tigers is essential and important

Introduction :

Wild Tigers are the "Flagship Species" of Indian Forests. The Balance of Nature is in their hands. There is an amazing predator-prey relationship in Tiger - rich Forests all across India. They control the burgeoning population of Herbivores in the Forest. Without Tigers, Herbivores would overrun the Forest completely.

For Example in Tadoba Tiger Reserve in Eastern Maharashtra, the favourite prey of Tigers are "Wild Boars" or "Wild Pigs". This was documented very well in a book called "Tiger Fire" by Valmik Thapar.

In Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, the favourite prey of Tigers are Sambhar Deer, Spotted Deer, and Blue Bull also known as "Neelgai".

 That having been said, we must now take a realistic look at the future of the Tiger in India as it exists in the 21st Century and we need to see for ourselves what we need to do to foster "Tiger Conservation".

Notes on Tiger Conservation in India and on the decline of Tiger Population in several reserves :

Tigers are in decline throughout their range and the Global Population of 3,200 Tigers of which 70% survive in India is severely threatened by various "pressures".

Consequently, despite international conservation efforts the range of the Tiger has declined by 40% or more in the last decade.

India has made a "tremendous effort" towards tiger conservation by establishing as many as 43 Tiger Reserves and several more are in the pipeline in the near future.

However, the mere "declaration" of protected areas as "Tiger Reserves" has not succeeded in maintaining a healthy population of this "Big Cat Predator" in these reserves as is evident from the rampant poaching of tigers from Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan in 2004 and from Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh in 2009.

Again, the low density tiger population in as many as 16 Tiger Reserves due to insurgency in reserves such as Palamau in Jharkhand, Similipal in Orissa, Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Indravati in Chattisgarh, Valmiki in Bihar, and so on are major worries for the future of the Tiger in India.

Something to cheer about as regards Tiger Conservation:

It is therefore, important to strengthen "Tiger Conservation" in parts of India where "Law and Order" issues do not pose a problem; such that the continued existence of the "Tiger" can be ensured in at least some part of its range.

The Southern Half of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, at the tri-junction of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala constitutes arguably one of the finest conservation areas in the global range of the Tiger.

There are large stretches of "Prey Rich" contiguous forests in this area.

The need of the Hour is to establish "Siruvani Conservation Reserve" in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and "Nilambur Conservation Reserve" in Kerala to bolster and increase the conservation of large herbivores and carnivores in this geographical area.

With this suggested extension, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu could become the finest habitat for tigers across the "Indian Subcontinent" given the differences in altitude, topography, and climate which produce a diversity of Forests and grasslands providing the tiger with an assortment of prey ranging from the Nilgiri Tahr in the High Altitude Grasslands to Blackbuck in the low lying dry deciduous and dry thorn forests.

Conclusion :

The Long Term Goal for the inter- state tiger landscape where Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is located, should be to have a minimum population of 300 Breeding "Adult Tigers" along with a thriving population of mega-herbivores such as Wild Indian Bison, Sambhar Deer, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer etc.

"All is not lost" as far as Tiger Conservation is concerned. The Bandipur- Nagarhole-Mudumalai-Wayanad Forest Complex in South India is home to more than 550 Wild Tigers - the single largest wild tiger population in the world according to the 2014 Tiger Census.

Truly, it seems that "South India" is proving to be a major stronghold of Wild Tigers. Let us keep it that way. The need of the Hour is to protect contiguous Forests and Big Cat Predators in South India like "No Tomorrow".

Credits and References :

Ensuring the Future of the Tiger and other large mammals in the Southern Portion of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, South India By Dr. A. J.T. Johsningh, R. Raghunath, Rajeev Pillay, and M.D. Madhusudan
Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society
May-August 2010
Pages 77-85

Note : I strongly recommend two excellent books on "Tiger Conservation".

They are as follows:

1) Tiger Fire By Valmik Thapar Published by Aleph Books a Division of Rupa Publishing. (2013)

2) Tiger - The Ultimate Guide by Valmik Thapar  Published by Oxford University Press in collaboration with Two Brothers Press - (2004).

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Wild Tigers will always be India's National Animal

This is with regard to "An Animal that's changed history" by Valmik Thapar, HT Mumbai, Page 12 Saturday May 30,2015.  (Comment Section)

I beg to differ with the author that "Tigers" do not deserve the tag of National Animal anymore for the following reasons:

1. Wild Royal Bengal Tigers can be found from Rajasthan to Kerala. They can be found in dry deciduous and dry thorn forests in North-West India to semi-tropical and tropical deciduous forests in South - West India.

2. Even in Humble Goa, Tigers can be found in semi-tropical forests such as in Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary on the Maharashtra -Goa Border.

3. Kaziranga National Park in Assam has the single largest population of wild tigers in north-east India.

4. Machli- A Famous Ranthambore Tigress had a large litter of 9 Tiger Cubs some time back and received a "Life Time Award" from a British Travel Operator associated with the British High Commission in India for her noteworthy "Family Life" in 2009.

5. The Family Life of Tigers in the Jungles of India is awesome. The Relationship of the Tigress with her cubs is phenomenal. Lately, the relationship of the "Tiger Dad" has been documented quite well.

6. Finally, Southern India is emerging as a major stronghold of Wild Royal Bengal Tigers. The Bandipur- Nagarhole- Mudumalai - Wayanad Forest Block holds the single largest population of wild tigers in the world.

When we take all these factors into consideration, we have to conclude that the Tiger deserves the "Tag" of the National Animal.

Note : Here is Valmik Thapar's Original article that was published in the Hindustan Times.

My article is in response to his article.