6. The Future of Indian Tigers and Asiatic Lions.
By Lavkumar Khachar
By sheer coincidence, I have been expressing my doubts about the future of the two noble felines when there is a spate of news about tigers from the man at the top of the figurative speaking conservation pyramid: Jairam Ramesh, the Central Minister for Forest and Wildlife (Environment if you will). Well, he has spoken about dangers ahead and the need to see that "lazy" Forest Guards are made to be more active in the field and not prepare reports sitting in their offices. There also was reference to recruiting "suitable" men into the Force. All this vindicates what I have been saying in a rather brash way. He has also spoken about the China Trade, but a little while back, I spoke to a jeweler asking him how much a "Wagh Nakh" (Tiger Claw) ornament would cost. Each claw alone is being peddled by sleazy dealers for up to Rs.5000/- for the larger ones. For me the math was simple, one large tiger, or lion for that matter, could be poisoned with cheap pesticide and merely the claws removed would fetch the killer Rs.1,00,000/-! With the "lazy" Forest Guards around, the chances are that the carcass would go undetected until the maggots have completed the requiem. As I have indicated, even with the most tightly patrolled Sanctuary areas, animals spreading out would be vulnerable unless there is a high emotional value among the local populace. Towards this end, the Minister's suggestion to put a cap on resorts is welcome though I would like to see visitors being able to live with rural families and enjoy the peace of the countryside with, if lucky, a tiger or a lion added to the experience.
Significantly too, the report of high concentration of tigers in Kaziranga in Assam points to the emotive value of the One Horned Rhino for which that National Park was designated. I still remember how annoyed the Assamese where to be asked to part with "their" rhinos. I would not be wrong in believing that the healthy state of that Poject Tiger Reserve owes considerably to the possessive feeling of the people at large being reflected in greater involvement of the ground staff. Assam has had its unrests and law and order situations yet, poaching of the rhino and the tiger seems not to have been as high as one would expect. It is this emotive feeling which is apparently missing across much of India barring Sorath in Gujarat and the Vishnoi areas of Rajasthan. There are other such areas in Rajasthan and Haryana where the authorities would do well to gain strength from the prevailing popular sentiments. ARANYAK has strong roots in the Assamese soil while around the Gir we have many Nature Clubs, less well organized perhaps, but equally alert.
While the popular sentiment against Gujarat parting with "its" lions may be stymied as parochialism, my objections are far from being possessive. Before anyone dares to brand me a Gujarati, let me remind my critics that I have been the spark that has led to the notification of the Great Western Himalayan National Park, the Naloban Bird Sanctuary in Chilika Lake and the Nanda Devi World Heritage Site. I welcome the Minister's declaration of tightening the enforcement machinery in Project Tiger areas, I would be the happiest of men to be able to watch lions stalking herds of Neel Gai with the backdrop of the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur and, should my opinion be sought, I would advise that the first Cheetah be introduced in the Tal Chappar Sanctuary of Rajasthan and not, specially Velavadar in Gujarat. Friends in Bhavnagar would brand me a traitor just as those wanting the lions for Madhya Pradesh stymie me as a parochial Gujarati. Why do I aver that Velavadar must not be the first place to experiment with the introduction of Cheetahs, though this was indeed where the Maharajas of Bhavnagar hunted Black Buck with them? The whole area is prone to flooding during heavy monsoons. More important, the Gujarat Wildlife personnel must fully concentrate on the successful spread of lions well beyond the confines of the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. This success alone would be a major international conservation story.
While everyone seems to be focused on glamorous species like the tiger and lions, the very real challenge is to conserve vast areas of countryside, the present notified areas being the very last ideal wilderness real estate left. I would want to see them gradually spreading across the heavily degraded common lands instead of being permanently under siege situations. If the Tigers and Lions are endangered, far more poignant is the decline of the several highly bred domestic breeds like the Gir and the Kankrej cows. And, what of the many indigenous species of trees that have largely vanished from the countryside? The gradual spread of lions across the degraded hill country of Saurashtra would encourage the regeneration of the grasses that would result in recharging of the many hill streams which were a feature that alas has few left to attest. In the ancient Sanskrit writings, there is a couplet on Saurashtra which is telling:
Saurashtrae pancha ratnani, In Saurashtra there are five jewels
Nadi, Nari, Turangama Rivers (!), Women, Surf of the Sea,
Chaturtha Somanathas cha the forth is Somnath and
Panchamam Hari Darshanam….. Fifth, the "Darshan" of the Lord (Dwarka).
Nowhere the mention of lions! It is the rivers that delighted the ancients and they were indeed there well into the last century for me to have played in them as a boy and watched fish in their translucent water.
It has been my privilege to have been the initiator of the Nature Clubs that have spread across India assuring me a welcome across Gujarat, and beyond across large parts of Maharashtra, through Karnataka into Kerala; in the distant east there are valued young friends in Assam. I regret to say that there are no Nature Clubs that I know of around the prestigious Tiger reserves of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh! No wonder the tigers vanished from Siraska without a moan while the death of each lion generates a near hysteria in the local press. Ending this series of hopefully provocative essays, I would like to recommend to the Forest Departments of the two great Tiger States with their immense tourist visitation to form Forest Nature Clubs around their wildlife areas. Even though these may raise groups of potential critics as has happened around the Gir they would also provide the "suitable recruits" the Minister spoke of.
- ► 2018 (90)
- ► 2017 (156)
- ► 2016 (128)
- ► 2015 (165)
- ► 2014 (139)
- ► 2013 (308)
- Five leopards caught in one day in Sorath (Junagad...
- Agony of the mimic artist
- 139 lions died in 2009-11 in Gujarat
- Around Town : 139 lions died in 3 years: Minister
- 139 Asiatic lions died in Gujarat in last three ye...
- IUCN cautions state against poaching of lions
- Chief Wild Life Warden Visits affected areas by le...
- Lioness attacks young man during Lion Show
- Leopard terror visavadar
- Road to lion conservation
- Leopards die in fight with lion and hyena
- No Space in Leopard Jail, Junagadh
- Lioness get treatment amreli
- Article Water points in Gir to quench thirst of wi...
- Another leopard attack 7 year boy killed
- Junagadh zoogets 2 pigmey marmosets
- Gujarat opposes relocation of Gir lions in apex co...
- Work on lion safari begins in Etawah
- Prist fires on forest department staff
- 14 humans killed in leopard attack in Gir
- Lion family habitates Una coastal area
- Conservation reserve will be declared for lions
- People unhappy with double sided policy of Dhari F...
- Leopard dies in fight with lion at Gadhia
- Don’t bother Gir’s lion
- Leopard kills another kid
- Leopard mauls girl to death in Junagadh
- Leopard is in cage in close house
- Villagers caught leopard
- Fearing for vultures, SC panel picks holes in Mt G...
- No central nod for Girnar ropeway?
- Tiger poachers can kill lions too: Guj
- Gujarat won’t share lions with Madhya Pradesh
- Gir lions: SC hearing put off, issue echoes in Lok...
- Once again full fledged illegal mining near Gir Sa...
- Lioness, injuredin infight, treated on the spot
- Lion attacks man sleeping in dry river bed at Bava...
- ‘Lions are the property of Sorath’
- Battle for the jungle king is fast hotting up
- Poll people to move lions: Panel
- Should Gujarat provide wild Lions to Madhya Prades...
- Vashishta, Himachal Pradesh; Sunday, 17th October,...
- 7. The Future of Indian Tigers and Asiatic Lions.
- 6. The Future of Indian Tigers and Asiatic Lions.
- 5. The Future if Indian Tigers and Asiatic Lions.
- The Future if Indian Tigers and Asiatic Lions.
- 4. The Future of Indian Tigers and Asiatic Lions.
- Swopping Lions for Tigers.....
- Conservation of expanding distribution range of th...
- India’s lions still being killed, face uncertain f...
- No provision against cat entertainment
- Lion Attach at Amodra Village near Una
- Illegal lion shows a roaring business in Gir sanct...
- Gujarat won’t part with its pride
- Adopt Gir lion as national animal, says Parimal Na...
- PM should head Gir lions project: Nathwani
- Six detained for ‘lion show’ near Amreli village, ...
- Lion as a National Animal
- Steve Mandel, Santa Cruz County Stories: Award-win...
- Lioness photo season
- Rampara Vidi gets gift of three lion cubs
- Gir jungle does not increas in last few years
- Rajkjot – Mumbai residents held at illegal Lion sh...
- Lioness attacks farmer in Dhari
- Lioness attack on farmer
- Leopard kills infant in Sutrapada village
- Water pond for lions liliya
- Sutrapada leopard killed child girl
- Gujarat sugarcane farm shelter of leopard
- Leopard kills infant at Sutrapada
- India’s lions still being killed, face uncertain f...
- Gir Sanctuary lost 86 lions in three years
- One more lioness gives birth to two cubs at Kankra...
- Cute – but endangered – The Lions of Gir
- Lion attacks cleaner at sakkar bag zoo
- Lioness gives birth to two cubs at Kankrach villag...
- Leopard carcass found at Khambha near Visavadar
- Orphaned lionesses learn motherhood at Junagadh zo...
- Lion recognizes our uniforms and voice
- Porcupine deafet lioness in dhari
- Fire in lion's abode, no casualty
- Fire in lion home land
- Leopard attacks teenager in Amreli
- Leopard attack youth unique idea
- ▼ March 2012 (84)
- ► 2011 (296)
- ► 2010 (415)
- ► 2009 (316)
- ► 2008 (342)
- ► 2007 (254)