Wildlife Conservation and Empower Foundation...

Wild Life and Nature Conservation

Each one of us encounters China atleast once a day, either when we see a traffic signal urchin selling a Chinese toy or colleague carrying a new expensive looking cheap Chinese gadget to an extent that even the traditional Indian items like the lanterns for diwali (festival of light) and the idols of Lord Ganesha (the Indian elephant God) are made in China. We either appreciate or or crib about
China for its mass production strategy almost taking over the Indian market. Having said all, China definitely has given a dent in the Indian Economy and even the wildlife sector has not remained untouched of this dent.

All would have seen the 1411 Tigers and Save the Tigers Campaign, but, one of the biggest hand in the declining population of our National Animal is China ! The hunting for Chinese medicine and fur is the biggest cause of decline of the tigers.

The Wild Indian and Empower Foundation with this blog is trying to give all Indians a brief background on the whole issue with some way forwards too.

A Background :

Nearly one tiger is getting killed everyday in India despite many Tiger conservation programs, mainly due to habitat loss and indiscriminate poaching for pelts, bones and teeth used to make medicines allegedly providing the tigers strength. A 40000 Tigers number at the beginning of the 20th Century is at just 1411 today !

For a poor Indian farmer, for whom word suicide is like common cold, the money from selling a tiger equals six months of hard work on the fields, no wonder killing an endangered animal seems a tempting option. Tiger pelts can fetch up to $12,500 to $15000 in China.  Infact, there are poaching tribes existing in the country, many of them are caught with the tiger skins and bones and are spending their lives behind bars.

As per data by greendiary, even in the woods of Ranthambhore, the only dry deciduous tiger habitat in the world to spot the elusive cat, the tiger population has dwindled to just 35. Meanwhile, the number of people living next to the park has more than tripled, from 70,000 in 1980 to 250,000 today. The new arrivals have brought construction, logging and nearly 1 million grazing livestock. Even as their habitat shrinks the tigers tend to seek out this livestock, resultant in revenge killings by the farmers. Its almost humans versus tigers, with land getting more and more limited. Also, Human activities including carbon emissions, other pollution, habitat destruction and fragmentation, and climate change are driving an unprecedented wave of destruction and habitat degradation that is leading to species extinction on a scale never before seen in the Earth’s recent past.

I began with the Tigers for 2 reasons – (1) Tiger is our National Animal (2) Save the Tigers Campaign has atleast set the base or created the basic plinth about the cause and building on the same will be easy as there is much much more beyond the Tigers. And ofcourse, the government has various projects for other species too.

Equal number of Elephants (for their tusks & bones ), Rhinos (for their horns & bones) and Lions (for their skins and bones) are being killed year on year.  There are many species like the Indian / Asiatic Cheetah,  Snow Leopard, Barasingha, Rhinoceros,  Pink-headed Duck, Himalayan Quail, Gangatic Dolphins, etc on its way to extinction. If you even recall the last time you saw a sparrow in Mumbai. We are loosing animals and birds, an important part of our world and the day would soon come when our kids would be shown a tiger in a museum like our parents showed us the Dinosaurs !

What can we do ?

It is quite alarming – when you ask someone to Save the Tiger – How can I save a tiger is the first question and the cause itself gets killed in the first shot. The campaign gets you only one thing and that is Awareness, well atleast. But what next ? This is a bigger question.

Being friend with some CFCs  (Chief Forest Conservators) / IFSs (Indian Forest Service Officers) below are some simple ways on how a common citizen like me or you can Conserve the Wild Life or Nature.

CITIZEN LEVEL – A very important stakeholder for the Conservation are us – the citizen of India, who need to learn, understand and appreciate the cause. Then would follow the other steps.

  1. Awareness – The first and the most important step is creating awareness on the subject. For eg. How many of us know about the Wild life of India, how many of us understand and appreciate the same. How many of us consider Wildlife tourism as a holiday option ? How many of us have initiated a process of taking our kids and showing them the beauty of jungles, animals in their wild habitat and teaching them to appreciate the nature so they can conserve it. Ideally, thewildindia and Empower Foundation would try doing this basic.
·         One can read websites/blogs and forward good articles to the peer group for awareness. Do you know that Gangetic Dolphin is our National Aquatic Animal ? or do you know that there are many natural destinations near Mumbai where you can explore nature without the crowd of the tourists to the closest over a weekend ?
  1. Spread the Message - One can display their respect or love for the cause by means of using a wild animals picture on the desktop/laptop/screen saver or wear a T-Shirt with such cause (Surrogate advertising)
  2. Participate in a Campaign - One can participate in a petition/pledge for a certain cause (thesedays the same are online). Raise your voice against this injustice. Peaceful protest, human chain, petition and rally are some ways to do it. You can also write a heart felt and logical letter to the government stating your ideas about this issue and how it can be solved. Remember- an RTI has to be replied else the government officials are fined !
  3. Contribue and Collaborate - One can contribute (time, money) to various NGOs working in that area post being satisfied with their process. Choose and Fight for a cause - Visit Zoo / Circus and if you find poor state of the animals, you could directly or through an NGO file an RTI and fight for the Right of the animal. It hardly takes a few minutes of your life.
  4. Protest -Refuse to buy products that contain animal ingredients such as fur, ivory, and tortoise shell. Refuse to buy products that have been tested on animals. Think about what you eat.  You get Zebra, Antelope, Crocodile Flesh very easily in Africa. Some of my acquaintances in India have experienced Wild Hare, Deer and Peacock Meat. Ideally, all should become Vegetarians, but it’s a personal call. Buy recycled paper and save paper for recycling to help conserve forested habitats. Protest illegal tree –felling and Plant trees – a common one though

GRASSROOT LEVEL – The most important stakeholder for the Conservation are our Tribals. - Man-Animal Conflict has to be tackled at the ground level and its not that difficult. 
  1. Awareness at the GrassRoot level- One can Join the Forest department officials for some social initiative – As we all know that man-animal fight leads to the extinction of the wild life. Not just wildlife, even teak plantation would soon become endangered with the illegal cutting of trees. Here too, Awareness at the grass root level is required on what to do and what not to do. Forest department is too small in strength, be it anywhere in the country and would always require support from the citizens.
  2. Engaging with the Tribals and educating them as the same is the base, so that they who are on the ground can conserve nature first.
  3. Empowering the Tribals with employment generating opportunities (eg. Art)
  4. Promote Rural Tourism so a revenue generation can happen.
  5. One can donate Old Clothes, Old cycles, two-wheelers other household items to the tribals.
  6. One can mentor a tribal family or a class of tribal youth