Q: Why should we preserve tigers?

Asked by Srinivasan M

Answer from Shekar Dattatri, Conservation India:

When asked why he wanted to climb Everest, English mountaineer George Mallory is reported to have famously remarked, “because it’s there!”. We could say the same thing about saving tigers. Tigers don’t need to justify their existence on this planet any more than we do. It is our privilege to still have them in our midst and we must do all we can to pass them on to future generations.

Of course, protecting tigers simply because they are there may not seem like a good enough reason to some people. Well, here are a few more:

  • National Pride: We pride ourselves as a modern nation and an emerging economic super power that deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with developed nations. What kind of message will we send to the world if we cannot even save our National Animal? Just as important, if we lack the commitment or the sagacity to save so charismatic an animal as the tiger, will we be able to save anything else?
  • Preserving nature’s balance: Thousands of ‘lesser’ species share the tiger’s habitat. By taking steps to save the tiger we also save all these species, which are vital for maintaining the balance of nature.
  • Ensuring our ecological security: Protecting nature is not a luxury but a vital necessity. Hundreds of rivers that we depend upon for irrigation and drinking water have their origins in forests that have been protected in the name of the tiger. If tigers disappear, the political will to save these forests will erode further. Mining and timber mafias will then degrade and destroy them, and, in the process, put all our lives at risk.
  • Preserving something irreplaceable: The tiger is a priceless gift of nature. If it disappears, a part of India’s uniqueness will be lost forever.
  • Ethical reason: The tiger is an extraordinary creation of nature that has survived along with us for millennia. It has as much of a right to continue to exist on our planet as we do.

And by the way, let’s not forget that saving forests and wildlife is enshrined in our Constitution!

Constitutional Provisions

  • 48A. Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life.—The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country.
  • 51A. Fundamental duties.— It shall be the duty of every citizen of India— (g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;

It will be a great shame if we push the tiger into needless extinction. In the words of the great wildlife biologist, George Schaller, “Future generations would be truly saddened that this century had so little foresight, so little compassion, such lack of generosity of spirit for the future that it would eliminate one of the most dramatic and beautiful animals this world has ever seen.”

A long time ago, our ancestors knew that all life was interconnected and interrelated. Here’s a passage from the Mahabharata written over 2400 years ago!

“Do not cut down the forest with its tigers and do not banish the tigers from the forest. The tiger perishes without the forest and the forest perishes without its tigers” (Udyogaparva).

For more details go through The Truth about Tigers website.

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