Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Save the Tiger.. By Raza Kazmi

Dear Ray,

These four pics are from Kanha Tiger Reserve. Now, like going into the relatively unknown wildlife sanctuaries and national parks that are out of the public eye precisely to avoid this mad rush of tourists and observe nature closely and in solitude. This trip to a well known tiger reserve was after a gap of almost 5-6 years and even though I will accept the fact that the park is extremely rich in Wildlife, I was extremely disappointed with the extreme mismanagement of Tourism:

1st pic--- This first pic at the entry gate was itself very disturbing-- "Tiger Show"-- I felt these were insulting and degrading words to be used for a WILD TIGER--- a Tiger Show is a term used in circuses or in some zoos. This was an ominous sign of the things to follow.

Click on the images for a larger view, then use your back button!

2nd pic---- Now, I reached a the park a bit late (the tourists enter early in the morning by 6:00 am and come back by 10:00) at 8:00am, so the forests roads were bereft of the tourist bustle and perhaps I was lucky enough that this brief calm prompted a tiger to come out....I was elated and had just snapped a few pics when suddenly a tourist gypsy arrived and within 10 minutes from nowhere, gypsies started pouring in......and I could see this tiger getting extremely uneasy and panicky.

3rd pic
---- This was the situation within 10 minutes of tiger sighting....a traffic jam of sorts...I roughly made a count of the gypsies and the number was staggering 35. My guide insisted the driver that we somehow manoeuvre our way through this traffic jam of sorts to get a view of the tiger and that is when I asked him that I had had enough, i didn't wish to be a part of this foolishness. Even though the guide was dismayed by this, he reluctantly asked the driver to move out (still giving me perplexed looks!!).I told him to take me to some quiet place where I could observe the forest in peace even if it meant maybe seeing just a squirrel. On our way out, I saw at least 10 other gypsies whizzing pass us to be a part of the "Tiger Show".

th pic--- This pic was just before we moved out, the tiger obviously extremely agitated and traumatized was unsure of what he should do.....what I have known after observing the behaviour of wild animals in the past 15 years, this guy was looking to cross the road. But the mad rush of gypsies that were standing right on the path which he wished to cross, a large no. of tourists heckling at the poor creature so that he would look towards them, loud noises of the accelerators---- all this weren't allowing him to do so and so tired and confused he went inside the small concrete water pipe under the road and wasn't ready to come out----so the tourists started heckling and shouting and the tiger again came out of the pipe....

Somebody asked me so what if this is happening, the tiger will be away from the tourist eyes for most of the day....this ordeal is just for maybe an hour or so....but the repercussion of this is that the animal undergoes huge trauma (and this trauma is just like the trauma that a human undergoes when he is robbed, heckled, etc.) and just like humans, it takes days for the animal to overcome this trauma, but as the tiger is a territorial animal(much like the other big carnivores of India)so he can't move out of this tourist zone.

It will in all probability face this trauma all over again in a couple of days, even before he could recover from the last experience and this leads to poor reproduction as it has been scientifically proven that traumatized animal can never breed properly......with the tourist pressure growing with each passing day, there is pressure on authorities to open up new areas of the parks for tourists and this will lead to even more tigers facing the same situation and with that the breeding capacity of the tiger will deteriorate and they will eventually die out........another aspect of this is that the tourist lodges and resorts coming up near the park to cater to the huge influx of tourists are encroaching upon forest land, cutting down the forests and choking vital wildlife corridors with their responsible and regulated tourism helps in keeping a check on the health of the park as this keeps the authorities on their toes, but unregulated tourism will ultimately lead to the destruction of what it thrives on......

The next day i read the news that our extremely honest and competent forest minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh (such a dynamic minister after almost 23 years of misery has literally brought a new ray of hope for our wildlife) has announced that unregulated tourism is among the three top threats to our fauna (the other two being poaching and habitat loss) and that he will stop this unregulated tourism.....this did bring a smile on my face.....

So that's the hazard of unregulated tourism that plagues some of India's finest wildlife habitats.......Hope you spread this word among others!!!!



  1. good write up, you rightly pointed out how unregulated tourism can be a danger to wildlife. How tour guides and park management turn wildlife viewing into a freaky circus show where everybody wants a piece of the Tiger. As it is it has enough to deal with, but i think you may have gone a little overboard with the "poor tiger scarred for life" angle. still nobody likes to be heckled and herded especially a wild animal and that too the tiger! guess we should concentrate on promoting wildlife tourism as a wholesome experience whose success or failure should not depend on whether you have seen the tiger or not.

  2. I completely agree with you, and as for "the tiger scarred for life" thing, i don't mean that this single experience does that, its the cumulative effect of undergoing the same trauma every second or third day and this does have a effect on the his breeding capability, and i know how long a such a trauma lasts because i have seen a leopard dying four days after it was captured from a village( he didn't have as single injury, it was just the trauma of being chased by a crowd of more than hundred into a shed and the whole "Tamasha" that had been created there that traumatized the animal to such an extent that he could not survive)....the same thing happened with a Sambhar that was chased by villagers in Bhoramdeo Sanctuary, he also didn't have a single injury(the people were actually trying to guide him to a pen where they had kept water and fresh grass for the animal)and after surviving for two days he died....and this is when i read about trauma in wild animals and its been proven that such excessive trauma can actually kill a wild-animal.So that's what i meant that its not this single incident, but the continuous cycle of trauma will finally take its toll on the Tiger....Hope i cleared it up as to what i was trying to convey....

  3. Anil Bakshi, Ex IFSJune 5, 2010 at 10:13 PM

    Raza ...

    very well written and summed up article/set of observations. It shows how well you have been nurtured on wildlife conservation and how promisingly you have picked up. I highly rate your comment that " breeding capacity is proportional to the trauma inflicted on the animal everyday by mad-rush onto it". I made my children to read your words and they stand educated on the subject.

    keep writing such observations!!!

    Anil Bakshi, Ex IFS

  4. Thank you Uncle, Thanks a lot..I'm really humbled by this appreciation of my work...Your comment is a huge source of encouragement for me, and i will surely keep on writing and try to improve myself...Do convey my regards to Aunty and the children.

    With Love


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