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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why I Think "Save The Tiger" Is Pointless.

This post is in reference to my Twitter comment which follows, and how I think that there isn't a whole lot of point to having a 12-hr TV show in trying to save tigers in the wild...or "tiger conservation" as they put it:
"Oh no! Save the tiger! Stop the NDTV AIRCEL TIGER TELETHON. I was kidding about "taking it to the forests". :-S #tranquility#shattered"
Rohin Kallat (2010, December 12). http://bit.ly/f8pC9b [Twitter Post].Retrieved from http://twitter.com/rohinkallat/statuses/13828181408620544

Screenshot of NDTV-Aircel Save Our Tiger site.
 There are too many things that work against the survival of the tiger, and conducting a feel-good exercise that's only really a lot of song-and-dance isn't going to help. The problem is that there are too many people around, and that's having a direct impact on the tigers in the "wild". Forests are shrinking, and "villages" are encroaching into land allotted for and designated "tiger reserve" areas. Tigers just went on the market with China putting them on the open market. And with the openly admitted failure of "Project Tiger", there's nothing to suggest that shuffling a few people around in perhaps the most corrupt times in Indian Politics and Financial Institutions, what with all the scams about, will lead to anything spectacular. What was that saying about wasting your time trying the same old thing repeatedly in the hopes of achieving a different result? If you're wondering what's with all the "big talk" and how it's possible for someone like me to sit here and BS on my Blog while prominent Indian movie stars are donating upwards of 14 lakhs to NDTV and Aircel's Save The Tiger 12-hr Telethon. If you're wondering how I can shoot my mouth off without providing an alternate solution, I have a solution for you. Let's start with something simple. How about we pledge to put less effort into fighting the people who already live in the forest, a conflict that leads to many of them becoming "Naxalites" or :Maoists" , and put that effort into moving the "encroaching villages" out of the national parks and protected areas? Just a thought, trust me.

If I had to list all the things working against the realistic conservation of the tiger, I'd begin by listing that in a world where the number of people on it continues to rise every single day, still, it's impossible to protect every living thing. It's a simplistic application of the law of conservation of energy, in terms of biological, living matter, "[not being able to] be created or destroyed". There's a limited amount of this "life" stuff around, cells and whatnot, and if there's more of one, there are less of another. Don't we know this already? It's part of every single lesson about environmental conservation.So, the first point is, "More people means less everything else...tigers included."

China just put tigers on the open market...in The Year of The Tiger, no less. Supreme, perhaps diabolical irony that. And now that that's happened, there's really nothing to protect the tigers, or anything for that matter. It has been shown, both in real life as well as in celebrated fiction, that the offer of more money often results in a convenient switching of sides. Ergo, a poor forest ranger, paid not near enough if you think about the amount of media attention this "issue" receives, is more likely to go in with someone who can assure a better financial turn around on a dead tiger, instead of being content with the pittance received for traipsing around the forest, risking attack by a live one. Even if we assume that there is no such thing as a corrupt forest ranger in India, amazing as that feat may be, the rising price of anything "tiger" will only cause poachers to mount larger attacks on the forest rangers and "special forces" or "rapid action force" or whatever. The poachers don't even need to be following the tigers because the rangers are already doing that. If they follow the people who are keeping an eye on the tigers, it's one less thing for them to worry about. Judging by the "flop show" that "Project Tiger" was, I'm sure conservation efforts would be aided by hiring former poachers to be rangers, simply because they would have better technique from being in the field...as opposed to being trained and employed by government. Even if they hired a pair of guards to loosely "tail" every single tiger in India at the moment -- 1400 supposedly, although I remember Aircel saying 1411 like a month ago -- the poachers, or team or poachers, would only have to be able to overpower this pair of guards to get to the tiger that the pair was following. More likely than not, at gun point, many a "protector" would turn over his ward to the more powerful, and currently life-threatening, bad guy at the trigger end of a firearm, if only to save his own life...so that he may support his family somewhere. Check out how long ago this article, "Where have all the tigers gone?", was published on BBC.com. Apparently, as I look up at the TV at 2:14 pm, on this sunny afternoon of the 12th of December, 2010, INR 90,46,294 has been donated to help save the tiger, and there's about nine hours left in the telethon. God help us all!

I don't understand what they expect to happen by sticking to conservation techniques that have failed so far. So we throw people out of the tiger reserves and national parks. First the "squatters", then the tourists, "No human contact is good human contact", being the operating principle. And let's say it doesn't work, because we find that on the one hand, tigers aren't really used to keeping to "human boundaries" whether or not the fence shocks them on the way out, and on the other hand, people still find it mystical and powerful to grind a little tiger "this", and it to some powdered tiger "that", for assistance in the sack The next best thing to do would be to farm them. It sounds unacceptable and wrong on so many levels, mostly because you can't stand the thought of a majestic orange and black coat, behind a stall, with a large bell around its neck. But, if we want to hold on to it in spite of all the other horrors that we continue to inflict upon this world, it may be the only viable option. Check out this article and its views on the appropriate M.O. for putting a bounty on tigers to help save the species. I don't imagine you'll ever take the "wild" and "jungle" out of the tiger, no matter a few generations in the stall. The tiger would have to evolve into either a far quieter version of itself, or become a miniature in the wild so that it wasn't very easily spotted. Or, tigers would have to learn to leave people alone altogether, resorting to Lochness Monster tactics if they had to.

I suppose the final step would be to accept the fact that no matter what we do, because "we" are the problem, we can't also be the cure. It's not possible. Nature isn't designed that way. Civilization tries to justify it, but so far it hasn't been able to simultaneously be the protector of life AND death. We have to make excuses for things to die, they have to be enemies or otherwise deserving of death, but we can't accept that because more and more of us exist, and because meat is still on the menu, it's no surprise that people are in the mood for more exotic kinds of food. Did I tell you about tiger penis soup? It's just the way the world is, because this is just the way we are. This is our world. This is the world that we created. In it, tigers, like many other things, will become extinct. It's sad, sure. But that's just the way it is. Because it's "our" world. So go ahead and have some fun. Painted faces of little children, some of them wearing masks, while others sport t-shirts with one tiger motif or another. These are "in-between" shots. The main image is of four, nationally prominent gentlemen, on a platform, in the jungle, having people call in and talk about how else we can do a better job to save the tiger. Something said about it being our "national symbol". Poor guy, the tiger. Soon to be relegated to the infamous Indian Rupee, perhaps. Hey, it got a symbol makeover of its own recently, so maybe that won't be so bad. But on the whole, another trifle in the human history of our planet. 
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