Jumbo all set to save tigers
N D Shiva Kumar, TNN 24 October 2009, 01:17am IST
BANGALORE: After his successful first innings on the cricket field, Anil Kumble is all set for a second innings, this time in the wilderness.
Jumbo, as Kumble is nicknamed, has got an opportunity to pursue his other passion — protecting wildlife – by becoming the new vice-chairman of the state wildlife board. The post is in the rank of minister of state. The man who loves tigers plans to use his cricketing popularity and glamour quotient to save wildlife in the state. He talks to TOI about his new assignment.
* Did the government approach you for this post or did you evince interest?
It was mutual. I shared the fact that I was keen on wildlife. It was nice of chief minister B S Yeddyurappa to give me an opportunity to make a difference.
* How do you plan to go about it?
I’ll use my popularity as a cricketer to protect forests and wildlife. This will surely help me put projects and work on the fast track. Cricketing fame can help build bridges, know people better and act as a catalyst. Besides, people, especially children, have no time to venture out into the wild. One priority would be to educate children and involve them in conservation.
* Do you think your celebrity quotient will help?
Yes, it would. Wherever you go in the state, people relate to cricket. All I need is a bat and a ball. Wherever I go, I can play cricket with people. This will definitely make interaction easier.
* The board’s function is to meet twice a year and guide in policy. Would you be going by the rules and restrict yourself to meetings or go beyond?
I want to play an active role and take it beyond meetings. Karnataka is one of the best states in the country in terms of beauty, forests and tourism. I want the state to be the benchmark in protection of forests and wildlife.
* On man-animal conflict and death of animals…
We have encroached upon their habitat. People live in the forests and on their periphery. At the same time, we can’t restrict animals. This conflict is a challenge and it’s not easy to resolve. By educating people and addressing the problems, I hope to minimize the conflict.
* On your special focus on tigers…
In the food chain (predator-prey), the tiger is at the top. If it is happy, the life cycle will be fine. If the tiger is happy, the tree will be fine. Hence, it’s necessary to create an environment for tigers. I also know that for every tiger lost, 10 leopards are lost. And there is also the issue of elephant deaths.