Thursday, April 12, 2007

Are we saving the tiger?

No, We are not saving the tiger. The tigers future existence on this planet will be decided between a bunch of criminal animal traffickers and the whims of a handful of bureaucrats in the Indian government.

We have nothing to do with it. Despite our valiant efforts, our fundraising activities and our awareness campaigns over the last 35 years the tiger is now more endangered than ever before and it is now beginning to look like it's fate has been sealed.

It's time to tell it like it is, and to expose the myth that giving donations to wildlife charities is enough to save the last wild tigers from extinction. The amounts raised by the private sector are quite simply, too little too late and in any event, they are like providing funds for homewatch schemes with a hope they will prevent organized crime or sending donations to Africa believing it will put an immediate end to poverty and starvation and unlike the humanitarian disasters in Africa, the crucial difference with tigers is that once the they are gone, they are gone forever.

Is this acceptable? Is it right that we have absolutely no say in whether our children grow up in a world where tigers still roam pristine forests or whether they learn about them as they learn about Dinosaurs, as magnificent relics of a bygone age. I for one, do not find the current situation at all acceptable.

Who owns tigers anyway? Surely if they are wild, nobody 'owns' them, certainly not exclusively the group of humans who accidentally find themselves living next to them. If they belong to anything it is to the entire world. They are part of the magnificent biodiversity of this planet, they are perhaps the most awe inspiring and beautiful creatures that have ever lived and like so many things in life, we will only realize how much we loved and needed them when they are gone.
We will all feel their loss and we therefore should have a say in what happens to them. We have a share in them and that share currently has no rights.

We have no rights and yet we have responsibility. If we let them go extinct countless generations will suffer and they will not look kindly upon our generation who stood by and allowed this catastrophe to occur.

The time has come for a reality check regarding the many critically endangered species facing extinction within the next few decades. Politicians have for too long sat back and relied upon the good will of the general public to save them. This policy is clearly not working and a radical rethink is urgently required if these magnificent animals are to survive. The time for playing fast and loose with the worlds richest treasures is over.

I do not wish to criticize or belittle the efforts of fundraisers, conservationists, or wildlife organisations. They have done a magnificent job and clearly, many species would have long since died out if it were not for their efforts, but the status quo of having these animals teetering forever on the brink of extinction cannot continue. It only takes a regional conflict or a surge in the market for animal products and it is all over.

Tigers deserve more than this and we deserve better than this in an enlightened age where the longterm survival of these animals could easily be acheived, if only the political will of governments, not just private individuals was brought to bear.

Politicians are extraordinarily short sighted individuals, and the current generation seems blissfully unaware of the scathing condemnation that will be heaped upon them by future generations should they be stupid enough to allow the extinction of something so precious as the tiger to occur. This is a serious issue, and yet I sense people are becoming tired of hearing about endangered species, they are becoming complacent and there will widespread shock when the news finally hits home that all the tigers in the world are gone, never to return. Only then I fear, will people wake up and they will be extremely angry.

So what should be done?

Nations have recently shown themselves capable of agreeing international action over such things as climate change. Are endangered species not every bit as important as that? The time has come for Governments to say that species such as the mountain gorilla or the tiger are too important to be the sole responsibility of the country in which the animals live. Another war in Rwanda for instance, could be enough to wipe out the last remining mountain gorillas. This is no longer tolerable. Similarly, an inept Indian government that takes it's eye off the ball is all that it takes for tiger poaching to become widespread as has been demonstrated recently. This can no longer go on, just as no country would be allowed to pollute indescriminately, no country should be allowed sit back whilst the worlds natural heritage is lost forever.

As with climate change, international agreement should be reached at the United Nations. An international organization should be set up providing funds, manpower and expertize to help countries protect the national parks containing critically endangered species. Targets should be agreed for the increase in populations of such species and independant inspection by experts in the field should be regularly carried out. Rewards for good custody of the parks and Penalties for nations failing to properly manage them should also apply. The time for all this being done on goodwill alone has passed. It has been a failure and cannot continue.

In cases of emergency, U.N. personell should be deployed to conflict zones to ensure the integrity of park boundaries.

This may all sound far fetched but it is not beyond our politicians to acheive it. The only thing lacking is the will to do it and the vision to see how incredibly important this issue really is.

If the day dawns when we no longer have tigers, mountain gorillas or orangutans, people will ask why this wasn't done and it will seem so obvious that it should have been.


At 9:52 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely spot on Eric - your views make more sense than anything else I have read on the subject.

Now, somehow we need to rally the governments?


At 2:20 am , Anonymous Patrick Hedges said...

Eric, that was brilliant, and heart rending, to read. Time indeed to speak the plain truth. Well done for being so forthright. I myself paint tigers (not as well as you lol) and would be devastated if they go the way of so many animals through our corporate neglect. Kudos to you

At 11:54 pm , Blogger Robert & Ari said...

This is brilliant. Your ideas are sound and commonsensical. While wildlife charities and organizations have accomplished a lot, something like tiger extinction is too large to rely only on them. Getting a United Nations resolution on it would free it from nationalism.

And perhaps with UN oversight on the parks to prevent poaching, they can prevent some of the atrocities that go on in the same areas too.

At 11:07 am , Blogger Rahul Parekh said...

Dear Eric,

At first a big congratulations for starting of a new & wonderful life with your beautiful & adorable son. I wish he grown like a tiger, One a cute, Two a learner, Three an intelligent and finally at Four a graceful & strong personality.

I'm totally agree with you in your views to save tigers and all the endangered species.

If i talk about bengal tigers, today the condition is not very good. We have only 1411 tigers in the wild in India (it's official, more than 50% decline from last count of 3600) but i'm afraid that we have less than this count. As you mentioned indian govt. totally faild to take any strong & effective steps to conserve the tigers and its habitats, unfortunately politicians only takes care of their voting banks and not the wildlife!

Instead we have world famous!! programme like 'Project Tiger', tigers are not safe in their dwellings. I think tigers & other endangered species now need a Z+ security like those VIP gets, than only we can save our precious wildlife.

with all best wishes and have a wonderful work ahead,

Rahul Parekh

At 5:44 am , Blogger Rohan Chakravarty said...

amazing work mr.eric!

At 5:28 am , Blogger CASSIO LOPES and ALESSANDRA SANTOS said...

The conclusion is sad, tigers will disappear, as will lions and cheetahs and leopards and elephants and polar bears and mountain gorillas, and wild dogs and many other endangered species. Mankind is evil. Human race is destructive by its natures, and people are definetely bad to each other and not to mention bad to the nature. I lost faith on most of positive actions like education and cattle refund and so on, poachers need to be arrested or killed just simple like that. If tigers destiny is pending between poachers and politicians than fate it sealed.


At 1:34 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the "growth fetish" ideology rampant in economics, goverments and human population, animals are always going to come off badly. Until this idea set is changed there really isn't much chance.This cancer mentality is causing the death of much of the biosphere's only a matter of time really.Tigers will probably cease to exist in wild areas ..maybe the ones in zoos, and the odd well guarded wilderness or sanctuary will be the best that can be hoped for...sorry to sound so down vibe but I just can't see it changing.

At 2:17 pm , Anonymous Irma said...

You hit the nail on the head!
I sign each and every line.....but still - we won't change anything, regrettably! Clearly protection of endangered species is a UN body's obligation - similar to "world heritage sites" we should haven "world heritage species". The CITES is simply insufficient, corrupt and a governmental self-regulatory body which isn't by far sufficient.
Where shall we start? What can we do - what we haven't done in the past?
I am feeling totally helpless and powerless by watching what's going on in China, India, Canada Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, DRC etc etc etc .........
Becoming militant won't be an option...........


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