The Indian government is running a campaign to save the tigers. Tiger is a charismatic animal playing a pivotal role in the preservation of the ecosystem. It is at the apex of the food chain, a top predator that keeps the population of the wild in check. Presence of tiger in the forest indicates the well being of the forest. If the tigers go extinct, the whole ecosystem will collapse.
If tiger goes extinct, few other species can or will go extinct. Like when Dodos became extinct in Mauritius, a species of Acacia tree also became extinct. Three sub species of tiger are already extinct. Nearly 95 % of tiger population has been wiped out in the last century. Now the total world population of tigers in the wild is about 3500 with about 1411 tigers in India. Protecting one tiger is equal to protecting 100 SQ KM of wildlife habitat.
The tiger census is also questioned by experts for its accuracy as many believe that the tiger population is much lesser than the census quote. Poaching is the major cause for this. Poisoned goat as a bait is the oft used method. In a recent incident at Ranthambhore national park, a popular destination for tourists, Aldrin - a powerful pesticide was used to kill two 15-18 months old tiger cubs.
In this case, first information is that it was an act of vengeance by the villagers. Hearing this, Jungle Lore, a Mumbai base conservator group has swung in action. They have packed their bags and have moved to Ranthambhore in order to make efforts to educate the villagers.
Celebrities, sport star, politicians and film stars have been roped in to promote the campaign. The biggest threat to the Tiger population is the perception that Chinese men create demand for tiger body parts for aphrodisiacal purpose, hence the poaching. For a parallel effort, to curb poaching, the Indian govt. has recently approached the Chinese govt. to join India in its endeavor to monitor and close the smuggler's/ poacher's routes. In December 2009, China sentenced the man who had shot a rare tiger for 12 years plus fined him about 85,000 U.S. dollars.
With the aggressive campaign of the Indian govt., it is now easy to see bill boards, signage's asking people to increase their awareness and consequently help the Indian govt. in its objective. A side effect of this campaign is that school children are highly aware of it now and are discussing this issue at their homes.
You can watch these beautiful cats in their natural habitat in the following tiger reserves of India. Corbett National Park, Kanha National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Ranthambhore National Park, Panna National Park, Manas National Park, Sunderban National Park. The chances of spotting a tiger is highest in Bandhavgarh National Park.
Another species on the verge of extinct is Lion which is predominantly found in the Gir forest, in Saurashtra, Gujarat. However, my views on the Lions in India shall be the idea for another write up, which I should write soon enough.