Monday, February 26, 2007

COUNTER VIEW: Government tipped to allocate Rs 65 crore for tiger conservation in Budget

Yamini Lohia

The largest of all cats, the tiger, is perhaps the most beautiful and evocative of creatures. It has no natural predators other than man, and man is responsible for the extinction of three of the eight tiger subspecies.

India's national emblem is in grave danger of being relegated to the history books. On the face of it, Rs 65 crore is an adequate amount to save tigers from persecution.

However, the government's decision to budget only that amount for tiger conservation coming fiscal year is a serious error.

At least half this figure will have to be earmarked for relocation of the estimated 300,000 people who live in the wildlife reserves.

India has almost half the world's population of tigers, but studies suggest that this figure could be as low as 3,600.

Understaffed forest departments, lack of incentives and equipment have only created more problems. Clearly, minimal government involvement has not resulted in any significant increase in tiger population.

If the Tiger Conservation Authority is to perform its tasks, it must be given all the financial support it needs from the government.

It has been argued that the government is wasting its time and resources by allocating even Rs 65 crore. The lack of success in conservation so far has been cited as a reason for tiger conservation to be left to indigenous communities, with the government having little or no role.

However, the government represents the community, and it must take on the task of conservation. Organising communities to make a concerted effort towards conservation requires a central authority.

In a utopian world, forest dwellers would take on the responsibility themselves, and decentralised endeavours would save the tiger.

However, dwindling tiger populations, in India and abroad, do not allow the luxury of missteps. The time for experimentation is past, and it is only by providing the authority with all required resources that the tiger can be saved from extinction. Editorial/COUNTER_VIEW_Government_tipped_to_allocate_Rs_65 _crore_for_tiger_conservation_in_Budget/articleshow/1680162.cms

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