January 19, 2014



Courtesy: WWF-India
European power house Germany has shown the way for wildlife conversation by donating a whopping 20 million Euros for the cause of conversation of Tigers. The funds were given to the five year Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme - a scheme run by the International Union of Nature Conversation (IUCN) via the KfW Development Bank. The money will go to the protection of the stripped cats in their wild habitat in countries which were present at the St. Petersberg Tiger Summit in 2010. These include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal and Viet Nam; with our country accounting for more than half of the population of the largest felines, it is expected that a huge chunk of this amount will come here. The major objectives of the scheme are to improvement the management of tiger territories, improve anti-poaching efforts and most importantly, make the local people stakeholders in conservation of the beautiful species. The key takeaway from this are as follows:

(1) Developed countries have to play a bigger role: Like Germany other financial power houses of the world like the US, the UK and France have to do more to protect environment in general and wildlife in particular. Majority of the endangered fauna and flora of the world is found in the continents of Asia, Africa and South America, all of which are densely populated. As such, to reduce the pressure on wildlife and promote its well being, these countries here need more funds. However, most of these nations are developing and are already facing several other issues like social and economic parities which take precedence over animal conservation. It is here that the developed economies can pitch in. Besides, they can use their political influence to force these nations to adopt ways which are less harmful to the environment.

(2) China, you must do more: China should take a lesson from Germany's book. It is well known that the Communist giant is the largest market for tiger products - their bones are used in traditional medicine whereas the skin, canines and nails are status symbols in Tibet. For long, China was not a part of the international efforts to save the tigers. Even today, many felines are bred in farms across the country to fulfill demands of the lucrative trade in tiger parts. It is believed that there are around 1000 big cats in Chinese farms. This needs to be stopped with immediate effect and the animals there need to be rehabilitated.

(3) Lesson for the States back home: Not only China, several Indian states can learn a lot from this episode. Look at the issue regarding the relocation of Asiatic Lion from Gir into other areas of the country. With over 400 lions, the Gir sanctuary is over crowded; besides, the threat of disease is hanging like a sword of Damocles which can drive the species to extinction. As such, there are plans to translocate some of the big cats from here to the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. However, a section of Gujaratis have opposed it saying that these creatures are a heritage of their state. While it is good to love animals, people do have to realize that it is the Asiatic Lion and its survival that is important. Like Germany, states in India too have to rise above regional sentiments and help conserve our endangered wildlife.


(1) Courtesy: WWF-India
WWF-India's work for the Tiger (Link)