Is the tiger on the verge of extinction?
Sharp Decline in Tiger Numbers
In 1900, there were 100,000 tigers who roamed and roared in a dozen odd countries in parts of Asia and Europe. Of those majestic beasts, 40,000 or so were in India alone. Now in 2009, India cannot boast of having a couple of thousand tigers.
CJ: Chitranjan Sawant Mon, Aug 24, 2009 17:47:24 IST
THOSE WHO ride a tiger, end up in its stomach. This sentence was uttered time and again by political pundits and politico-jurnos alike to warn dictators and autocrats about their ultimate end. The situation has undergone a diametrical change. In the 21st century world, it is not the Man who ends up in tiger’s stomach but the poor tiger who is becoming extinct as a species to make mankind healthy and happy. The tiger census makes the point abundantly clear.
In the year 1900, there were one hundred thousand tigers who roamed and roared in a dozen odd countries in parts of Asia and Europe. Of those majestic beasts, 40,000 or so were in India alone. Now in 2009, India – home of stately Royal Bengal tigers cannot boast of having a couple of thousand tigers. Where have they gone? Well, they have ended up in man’s stomach. It is unbelievable but true. All parts of living and dead tigers are used by human beings in one form or the other.
The People’s republic of China is the biggest user of parts of a tiger’s body, from teeth to tail every part of the body is used in one indigenous Chinese medicine or the other. This has been going on for thousands of years not only on mainland China but also in other countries of the world where men and women of Chinese descent live and work. The South-East Asian countries make and dispense traditional Chinese medicines containing parts of tiger’s body and bones in abundant measure.
As per an ancient Chinese concept, parts of a tiger’s body used in a medicine or a tonic works as an aphrodisiac and enhances sexual enjoyment of both men and women. With the result the Chinese pharmacist of traditional medicines promoted poaching of tigers and kept on enhancing the incentive money to hunters. With the result, all tigers disappeared from southern China and ended up in man’s stomach. The thirst for tiger-based aphrodisiacs remained unquenched and the poachers encouraged by ever expanding Chinese medicine market spread their tentacles beyond borders of China. In the bargain, India became the worst sufferer because of a large tiger population and lack of check on poaching.
The situation has become so alarming that a high level delegation headed by a Union Cabinet Minister visited Beijing to convince their Chinese counterpart that urgent and effective steps should be taken to prevent cross border trade in tiger parts. On paper, there is a ban on killing tigers and using its body for traditional Chinese medicines but the ban is ineffective on ground. The Chinese officials are not serious about it as an effective ban would grind a multi-million dollar trade to a halt. Who wants to kill a golden goose that lays golden eggs?
Now there are no tigers in Taiwan, Thailand, Indo-China, malaysia, Singapore or Bali worth the count. Bali used to feel pride on a small species of tiger that had full freedom on the only Hindu island in Indinesia; not so now. In other south-east Asian countries too tigers are seen only in the zoo. Consequently the pressure on poaching and illegal trading in tiger parts in India increased day by day. Bangladesh too shared this infamous trade for some time but called it off as she could not sustain it. There was an additional pressure on the Royal Bengal tiger of India to stand in the firing line. The majestic tiger roared no more in many jungles thereafter. The tiger preserve of Panna may be cited as an example where tigers scored a zero in the honest census.
The Chinese are good international traders. The dwindling tiger population in Asia and parts of Russia in the Siberian region encouraged them to do Tiger Farming. Large areas of land were converted into jungles for breeding and raising tigers. The experiment was a success but it hit a roadblock. Experts in traditional medicine did not find parts of a tiger’s body raised in a tiger farm as effective and tasty as that of a tiger born and raised in the wild. Thus the conservators were back to square one.
The Government of India and the Government of China have one point in common in their thinking on tiger. Preserve the Tiger. Taking effective measures to protect and preserve the Tiger is the crying need of the hour.