Stripey the cub (in photo) has become the symbol of the tiger conservation movement and the recent Save our Tigers campaign initiated by Aircel*/WWF. The year of the Tiger rings in on 14th February and with this, there is predicted to be an increase in demand for tiger products.
India is working very closely with China to ensure that poaching is curbed on both ends of the supply chain. Beijing's co-operation is critically important in order to ensure the survival of the species. With only 50 tigers left in the wild in China, poachers are likely to intensify their efforts in India. Is someone addressing this issue?The site also gives information on tiger reserves and tiger density in each reserve - out of the 37 sanctuaries in India 17 face a collapse in tiger population. I have previously blogged about the plight of our national animal and since then nothing has changed really, in the overall scenario.
So what can you do? According to the website which is not very informative you can donate, blog, tweet, or join the Facebook page. The Aircel campaign has its heart in the right place and it is a great start to creating awareness; but its impact remains to be seen. Since Project Tiger which has been the most successful program in the 70s lost steam; tiger conservation has always had its lulls and rises. There has never been a concentrated effort to increase tiger numbers, reducing poaching and ensuring protected habitat remain that way. More importantly there has not been much transparency, advocacy or public involvement in the process. Every census releases varying numbers regarding tiger population - for example, does the site explain how the number 1411 was arrived at?
Latest technologies in animal conservation and expert consultations are the need of the hour. It is also highly essential for the public sector and civil society organizations to attack bureaucracy. More importantly it is essential that every tiger campaign, indeed every campaign keeps people in the loop. The newest WWF initiative is an interactive map that gives a status report of tigers all over the world. According to their latest numbers there are 3200 tigers are left world over in the wild. Like I have argued previously, conservation efforts are dependent on rate of biodiversity loss which is tied into economic losses. Stripey no matter how cute and how much celebrity support he garners, will not stir public sympathies for too long unless a holistic picture is provided. I hope someone from Aircel is reading this: more information is needed on their campaign objectives, how they plan on achieving them and where they're getting their numbers from - for starters.
* Aircel is a mobile phone service provider in India
Photo Courtesy: www.saveourtigers.com