Hi, I am a Tiger. I am known for my ferociousness, loud roar, speed and attacking moves.
The scientists—you know the ones working day and night in labs in white coats—have another name for me and hundreds of other tigers in the world, namely Panthera tigris, but you can call me Tiger! You might have heard about me in bedtime stories like those of Mowgli, although I am not as bad as most tales describe me.
I have yellow skin which is marked by black stripes. Did you know just like every human has a unique set of fingerprints, each tiger too has a unique set of stripes.
There are many kinds of species of tigers, however, the Royal Bengal tiger is one which is most commonly found in India. I also take pride in being the national animal of India,
We are spread across the country in states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Assam, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
At the end of the day, I am just as fun-loving an animal as a bear or a monkey. I am often referred to as the king of the forest.
Sadly, thanks to hunting and poaching it seems my days as the king of the forest are numbered. This is despite the fact that poaching and hunting have been banned in the country for years!
Human beings in their blind greed have ignored my tribe’s needs. We need a home, food to survive, air to breathe and clean water to drink just like any other living being.
However, it’s sad to see our natural habitats shrinking in size just to make way for more houses for humans.
At the turn of the 20th century, there were thousands of us living across the width and breadth of India. However, there were just 1,700 of us left in 2010-11, as per a survey conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India and National Tiger Conservation Authority.
As a tiger, I see a very shaky future for myself in the country, with poaching, habitat loss and population fragmentation threatening our existence.
I was declared an endangered species way back in 1969, which meant that experts had realized that we were heading towards extinction and decided to do something about it.
Along with being labeled as an endangered species, India banned the export of tiger fur, which till the 1960s was in huge demand in international markets.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a network of environmental conservations seeking to promote sustainable use of resources and wildlife conservation, has categorized me and my family all over the world as an ‘endangered’ species.
Nevertheless, tiger killings across India continued, with governments turning a blind eye to our problems.
What many people don’t understand is that I am not just any wild animal; in fact, I have a crucial role to play in the ecosystem. As a predator at the top of the food chain, I help in keeping a check on wild ungulates.
For those of you who didn’t know, ungulates are any diverse group of primarily large mammals. We help in maintaining a balance between herbivores and the vegetation they feed on.
For those of you wondering why you should save us tigers, there are many reasons. For starters, tigers help in maintaining forest cover by limiting the population of ungulates. Secondly, we keep humans away leading to preservation of greenery.
During monsoons, forests use a lot of rainwater for their nourishment. Without us, there would be a flood-like situation everywhere.
Globally, there are about 3,800 of us still alive and are found in countries like Russia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. Over the last few years, the decline in our numbers has been arrested, courtesy concerted efforts by organizations. The fact that India is leading the conservation efforts make me happy but I think we still have a long way to go.
The government of India has launched a number of projects to increase our population. One of the most successful of such measures is the Project Tiger.
Started in 1973, the scheme was launched to provide financial assistance to tiger states to construct sanctuaries and wildlife parks to preserve our numbers.
The scheme kicked off with just nine sanctuaries but now many of my brothers and sisters are living in more than 50 such specially-designed tiger reserves in 18 states.
These special reserves established under Project Tiger occupy 22% of India’s geographical area.
Well, I am happy to see people being concerned about me and my family members but I would love to live freely again.
I suggest that you go ahead and read more about us Tigers. This way you can help people realize to stop hunting and save me and my family from disappearing forever.
Shailesh is post graduate in Environment Management from Forest Research Institute (FRI) University, Dehradun, India. Presently he is working in the areas of Environmental and Renewable Energy Advisory Services. He has started GreenCleanGuide.com during his college days.