[ 20 Sep, 2006 2002hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
INDIA - A male tiger was shot dead on the outskirts of the Corbett National Park recently. How much time then, does our national animal have?
William Blake might have sung an ode to the tiger nearly 300 years ago and claimed that all was well with the great beast. Today however, Blake's 'muse' risks becoming extinct.
The recent 'disappearance' of tigers from the Sariska Game Reserve in Rajasthan had experts predicting the end of the magnificent big cat.
And just a few days back, the hackles of tiger conservationists were raised, when three villagers shot dead a male tiger at Kashipur, on the periphery of the Corbett National Park.
"It is yet another shocker and highlights the negligence of the government once more," says India's 'tiger man', Valmik Thapar. "The officials are not sensitive to the tiger's needs and do not know the importance of keeping people and tigers separate."
Tiger lovers are angry too. "The harshest penalty should be imposed on anybody, whether he be an ex-royal or a humble hutzel, if it has been established beyond doubt that he had shot a tiger," advocates VJ Nikhil Chinappa.
Actress Koena Mitra, an animal lover says,"Tigers are our treasure. Their ideal habitat is the jungle. They should not be kept even in zoos." Others are even more pessimistic. " Our future generations will see them only in pictures and photographs," says an ex-hunter, who did not want to be named.
Not all agree though. "Yes, things are serious. But, I am sure that the government and NGOs know it," says Ahmedabad-based wildlife photographer, Sanat Shodhan. Even Thapar has hope.
"Tigers will survive, but like the Asiatic Lion, it would be restricted to a few select reserves like Kanha or Bandhavgarh, and of course, in zoos. Also, hopefully, the younger lot would be much more sensitive."
Akshay Jha, an eleven-year old student from Surat is hopeful too. "Conservation is the key," he says.