Saturday, March 22, 2008

PM thanks NDTV for tiger campaign

PM thanks NDTV for tiger campaign

NDTV Correspondent
Monday, March 17, 2008 (New Delhi)

After receiving nearly five lakh signatures on Save the Tiger
Campaign from all over the country, the petitions were handed over to
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday.

''The government is with you. We are committed; we will do a lot more
to save the tiger. Thank you for creating awareness through the tiger
campaign,'' said the Prime Minister.

The response to NDTV's Save the Tiger Campaign, supported by
Sanctuary Asia and Kids for Tiger, has been overwhelming. Even a week
after the rallies held across the country, a remarkable 4,97,944
people came forward to sign the petition.

It has been little over a month since the government came out with
the latest tiger census. According to the government's latest census,
there are only 1411 tiger left in the wild, 50 per cent down from
3642 in 2001-02.

The figure was an acknowledgment of the fact that tigers in India are
in serious danger. Following this, NDTV carried out a campaign to
raise awareness and make people put pressure on the government to be
more vigilant.

Tiger numbers
Uttarakhand - 178
Karnataka - 290
In the northeast (Assam) - 70
Rajasthan - 32
Madhya Pradesh (Kanha, Bandhavgarh and other national parks) - 300

Most promising tiger growth is in the Terrai region of the Himalayas,
which includes Corbett, Rajaji National Park, Dudhwa and the Valmiki
tiger reserve in Bihar.

It may sound magnificent, but for how long? All attempts, even by the
Prime Minister, seem to be failing.

According to the government, the record looks so bad because the
counting method used last time was not very accurate.

This time, they have used the camera trap method, which identifies
tigers by its stripes and then adds up.

The methodology will be debated hotly in the days ahead but the key
question is whether the government has been successful in conserving
the tiger? On that, however, the government is far from confident.

''The problem is that cameras are placed in tiger reserves. But what
about tigers outside the protected areas, we have plenty like these
in Maharashtra,'' said B Majumdar, Chief Wildlife Warden, Maharashtra.

One thing that adds to the problem is the shrinking forest cover in
Assam, where 70 of the remaining tigers live.

''Depleting forest cover is bad news for tiger conservation,'' said
Rajesh Gopal, Director, Project Tiger.

The next tiger census will begin at the end of this year. Till then
the government has to come up with a strategy that will check the
declining tiger population.

Aim of the campaign

The aim of NDTV's public campaign is that leaders and politicians
should see the urgency of the problem and declare an emergency for
the tiger and save the national animal from extinction.

The campaign has had a huge response.

The Prime Minister is the head of the Wildlife Board, the highest
decision making body on these affairs and the CMs are responsible for
the tiger population in their states.

NDTV wants to make sure that saving the tiger immediately becomes a
Central responsibility and not that of the states. Armed guards must
protect India's sanctuaries and India's intelligence agencies must be
used to stop poaching.

Efforts by the govt

So far, after the latest census revealed that there were just 1411
tigers left in India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for an
emergency meeting and till now the following steps have been taken by
the government:

Rs 600 crore sanctioned for conservation in the next five years

Rs 50 crore will be spent specifically on tigers

Conservation of tigers to become responsibility of the Chief Ministers

Suggestions to save tigers:

An elite, well-trained protection force in Tiger Reserves
An intelligence network to check poaching
Centre to take over sanctuaries and parks in Naxal controlled areas
No permission for big projects like mining and industries in tiger habitats
Push for more convictions in poaching cases
Appoint a chief for the Wildlife Crime Bureau





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