Save the Tiger…The story of my life…

I urge, beg and plead with you all to watch this three part documentary by conservationist Shekar Dattari to know the “Truth about Tigers”. Please take time to watch the three part documentary and share the same with as many as you can. It will be a shame if we let the majestic Tiger dwindle into oblivion. There are only 1411 tigers left in India today. Act now!

For man remains the most selfish beast, oblivious to pain and grief

Until nature’s fury perishes man, will life with vigor stir

Man takes it all by siege, when will he turn a new leaf,

Only action is the answer, lest he continues to fester.

http://www.ndtv.com/news/videos/video_player.php?id=1212158


I once walked sprawling jungles with a gait in my stride as I took in the whiff of the damp soil while I trampled the green long grass under my paws. Nobody dared to stop me, they would all look down meekly as I strode past, their eyes dare not meet mine. Some would lay cute offerings that I would accept, else I would demand a bigger booty if I was not satisfied. They would scramble and get it for me and my hunger would be satiated. I strolled down to a watering hole and lapped up the fresh water that trickled from the nearby gleaming river.There were majestic teak and pine trees that clouded the horizon and the skies above me, I slept under their shade while cheeky langurs pelted me with berries. I growled and they would scurry, screeching away like a bunch of err..monkeys. At times I would get down to doing business myself, I did not always delegate. I led a carefree life. I had a few wives and several children, I did not keep track. Wives came and went, they went when I sent them away. Some took my kids and walked into the twilight zone. I did not stop them.

Many stopped to admire me, some called me majestic, some called me handsome, some called me cute but above all I was supreme as I was up high on the food chain. Ahem. I was happy with it all.My servants would groom me, I would glance their way once in a while.I rolled in the hot afternoon sun and took a nap most times with my family. We were not nomadic,we just moved houses because we were bored.My children played with me, they would chew my majestic tail and paw me. I was content, I purred. I worked of course, I was not just lazing around. Once in a while I had to take some strategic decisions and meet with the Generals to safeguard my territory. There were a few treacherous Generals who I court martialed and banished them for good. I trained hard, worked out at night and developed sixty packs whimsically, effortlessly. I was King Khan. I was the force of the jungle, a force to reckon. Of course, my cousin the Lion King has the same notion, I let him live with it and I with mine.

I started noticing a few changes around me one day. Summers were getting hotter, the trees around me were disappearing. There was not much shade I could take refuge under and I noticed there were not many chattering monkeys. The water in the nearby river receded, at certain places fish were dying. Swampy areas were congested with dead fish and plastic bottles. I was bewildered. I was thirsty. I had to walk a lot further to find water, I was not used to this. Offerings were not coming my way easily, despite my incessant growling tummy. There were pangs of hunger that I had to deal with besides my growing need for rest. I started losing weight, I never knew what it meant to be lean. Only my second cousins the Cheetahs were the trim chaps. As I lapped up some water one day from a dwindling watering hole, I saw my reflection. My stripes were no longer gleaming in the hot afternoon sun, my bones were showing, I looked like an ordinary wet tom cat. I dejectedly walked back to my family.

The nights were long, we worked as teams. We united with the unknowns to hunt for food. The irritating lot, the hyenas tagged along. I felt sorry for them and allowed them, they scavenged and we scavenged. Hunting with the hyenas was unheard of in my family. My ancestors would be scorning from the heavens above. With great difficulty we managed dinner once every few days. I had to share it with the family and uninvited guests. I had no strength to fight them off. The days went by and it got worse. I was exhausted, so exhausted that I barely noticed that my family was getting smaller. I looked out for my favorite girls, they were not to be seen. I summoned my General.I demanded statistics. Most of my family was dead, the General stated. I was left with only three wives and six children.I roared, louder than a thousand rolling thunders. The earth shook. How, I asked. How? Were we attacked by the outsider? What has caused this blasphemous state of affairs I demanded. Who is responsible for this atrocity? I roared. Man, he said.

I could hear those beasts called “man” a few years back. I could hear their shrieks and cries in the neighboring villages. The shrieks got louder over the years because they got closer to us. I could hear the drilling of machines, the sound of the steel sawing through the wood. I could see fences erected in my home, to keep me away from those terrible men. Some elephants died while looking for food, they did not starve to death, they were murdered by those electric fences or they were poisoned. I was scared to drink water from the hole. My throat was parched. I could hear the screeching of brakes in the middle of the night, I could hear the echoing footsteps, I could hear the gun shots, a whine, a yelp and then dead silence. The jungles engulfed the terrible silence along with our pain. It just got worse. Our numbers dwindled.

Our skin hung on the walls of castles, clubs and in the manors of these beasts. Our entrails used in chinese medicine. Our claws hung like a talisman on the necks of the brutes, hoping for good luck. They will be damned. My mother is avenging our deaths. She comes in the form or tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes and shows her wrath. Most of my family have lost the battle with man. I too am slowly succumbing to his ways. I know not how many more years are left in me. On last count, my General stated that there are only 1411 of us left in this world.They said I am supreme, they said I am majestic, they made me the national animal and I was the emblem for many royal families. I have never begged, the majestic never do,I now do. Let me live.

Please visit www.saveourtigers.com if my story has impacted you

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60 Responses to “Save the Tiger…The story of my life…”

  1. Sharmila, it was a touching story indeed. Please save the tiger, please. If not out of love for the majestic animal, then at least for the sake of our children and their children, please. At least for the well being of this beautiful planet, please.

  2. parmaatma Says:

    There was another good reason given by a farmer in Assam.

    The big cats keep the grazing animals away from the farms. Unlike canines, cats have better night vision.

    A herd grazing on a farm can eat away the entire crop for a season within a week. The crop has to be protected from both the land and the air.

    Nature keeps trying to preserve a balance. We don’t stop testing its limits, do we?!

    • Sudhir – Nature has her cycle, and all life forms are part of it. Unfortunately, man has interfered in this process more than he has to, causing imbalance. You are right, we are an agitated lot and we cannot stop!

  3. Beautiful story!!!!!Loved reading it……

    But Alas!!!The countrymen themselves are on the hunt for the national animal…..

  4. DEVKISHIN Says:

    you have way with the words, Sharmila. Your post is so very moving. The Government must make all out efforts to save this majestic animal.

  5. How much all those precious species we humans put on verge of extinction would have hated us!? who really is an Animal here!?
    nice story! why we humans can’t respect other lives!? How pretty those big Cats are!? isn’t the same situation with Lions in India?!

    • Monalisa – They hate us as much as we humans have, else we would not have done this to them. Yes, Lions are facing the same problems. We are the beasts without a doubt.

  6. Anwar Shakir Ahmed Says:

    Thats a wonderful write. Only wish it not to become true to this charismatic animal.

  7. Powerfully written. Thanks for sharing on Big B’s blog.
    We humans don’t deserve to be called ‘human’. The word Co existance is vanishing from our dictionary.
    I’m ashamed to be a part of this human race…..sorry Tiger, you Animal.

  8. Shobha C. Says:

    Very well written Sharmila ji!Man’s greed knows no boundaries.Hope this campaign and more of such initiatives make a difference and something positive is done!More power to you too,who has written about it before also!

  9. I have been watching the proceeding of the campaign closely. The key threats for the tiger are deforestation, encroachment and poaching to name a few amongst a myriad other issues and imbalances in the eco system.

    Some people are cynical about the efforts taken by NDTV and state that it is a TRP game and so forth. We are first to criticize why cannot we be first to encourage. We must give our 100% support to their cause, what the Government is not capable of doing, we have private entities who are stepping in and making a magnanimous effort to protect this wonderful animal. Funds are vital to protect the reserves and the Tiger’s habitats, big wigs in corporate circles and icons like yourself are the only ones who are capable of raising awareness ( as we tend to take notice of icons) and raising funds for the cause.

    Some views of mine –

    * It is vital to employ the villagers within at least twenty square km radius of the reserves so that they are not tempted to partake in illegal activities concerning the tiger and other forms of wild life.

    *Secondly, villagers must be educated and taught to coexist with nature, it is a mutually beneficial exercise, so long as their eyes are opened to it, they are bound to pay heed.

    * Funds are important to preserve these beasts. How can we help? Plan your next holiday in a tiger reserve. I am off to Bandipur in Karnataka soon.We must visit any of the 28 tiger reserves in the country. Remember that the more visitors that these reserves have, the more funds they will generate to protet and preserve these animals. There is a 80 20 rule to most things in life. Even if 80% of the money gets swallowed up by corrupt Govt officials, 20 % is bound to reach where it should. Let us not deprive the tiger, the 20 %.

    * The Tiger is high up on the food chain,therefore it becomes equally important to protect wild life under him. If there are not enough under him in the reserves, the tigers tend to stray to neighboring villages.

    * The Government must ban any form of human habitats in an area of atleast 20 sq km radium of these reserves, if development has already occured efforts must be taken to relocate these villages.

    * Security within the forests is the key. Rangers must be equipped adequately and also paid adequately so that they are not tempted to provide inside info on the tiger’s whereabouts to poachers.

    * Border security and customs must be tightened especially along the porous areas. China sources Tigers from India for their chinese medicine as they use it’s entrails. The biggest escape route for poachers to China is along the north east borders that we share with them.

    *We can raise awareness by pledging support, blogging about them, joining groups and forums and donating to wwf. As I said before, we are wonderful in criticizing and pathetic in encouraging. For the sake of the tiger we must change our attitudes.

  10. Aishwarya Says:

    Sharmila,

    There were 5 elephants brought to our temple festival in the locality last year. Their plight made me cringe. How can we be so inhuman as to chain such a majestic animal, leave them hungry, expect them to clown around for us, and then kill it when it runs amok in fear? After repeated complaints, no elephants were brought in this year. A step – big or small – can make a difference.

    These are moments that I actually appreciate the media. Even if they have to rope in celebrities to increase viewership for programs like Jai Jawan, green environment, lighting up a village, saving the tiger etc., it is an effort that is laudable.

    Lets all do our bit for Mother Nature.

    • Woderful move Aish. Small steps are the only way to create a big impact!..well done. I am glad that complaints were lodged. Yes, the media and celebs are the only ones who can build the awareness.

  11. Lakshmi Jag Says:

    Sharmila

    I seriously think this should be used to promote the project among children. Your simple style will appeal and touch them, do you know how I can recommend it? I will recommend it on AB’s blog….very nice and touching

    Lakshmi

  12. Sharmila Says:

    Lakshmi-thanks a lot for your lovely comment on ab’s blog,means much

  13. Sharmila,

    Well done with your efforts to raise and spread awareness to save the Tiger !

    I have a bigger confidence in the younger generation and feel that they need to be made aware of greater efforts that need to be made. Your well-written views on saving the tiger will most probably (and unfortunately) not reach them – have you thought of consolidating and putting them across, say in a story form aided by lots of sketches in a booklet that will inspire them?

    Maybe you already know of Pratham, the largest NGO in India, promoting education to the under privileged children – they reach out, not just to few thousand, but millions of children. Their books are low cost (not over Rs 25), making them affordable and accessible. FYI am in the Shipping Industry; we sponsored and produced a story booklet for Pratham on Ships & Shipping for children.

  14. Do see more abt Pratham at pratham.org

    During our project, I used to be in touch in 2005 with Madhav Chavan, Co-Founder & CEO of Pratham Education Foundation.

    I would be more than happy to write to him to introduce you; pls let me know if this is okay ?

  15. Hi Sharmila,
    keep up the good work.

  16. Lakshmi Jag Says:

    Veekay…a very good idea. It is such a neat idea and as poaching is done for money by the underprivileged, reaching out to these children by translating it into different languages would be a good idea.

    Sharmila you should follow up on this….I am excited for you

    Lakshmi

  17. Very well written Sharmila! Motivting too! I wonder what happened to the Project Tiger which the Govt had launched a few years back?

    Will it help if awareness is created among all, through the electronic media, that incidents of the Tiger straying into areas of human habitation and attacking people occur only because of the destruction of its own natural habitat? Your suggestions for saving our National Animal are very well thought of.

    Shubha

  18. Very well written Sharmila! Motivating too! I wonder what happened to the Project Tiger which the Govt had launched a few years back?

    Will it help if awareness is created among all, through the electronic media, that incidents of the Tiger straying into areas of human habitation and attacking people occur only because of the destruction of its own natural habitat? Your suggestions for saving our National Animal are very well thought of.

    Shubha

    • Thanks Shubha. Project Tiger that was launched in 1972 requires a lot of revamping. The only good thing that came out of it was the number of reserves increased from 9 to 28 since then. The Govt is not really doing much and that is why private initiative from NDTV and Aircell with WWF support is now critical.

      • sharmila,
        indeed what a wonderful intiative has been taken first by aircel and then by ndtv..
        ofcourse bigb’s addition to any programme is bound to generate some interest and its wonderful to see some genuine concerns among all people ofcourse there always wii be cynics but concerned people have always made a difference and will contnue to make difference..
        about relocating i am not so sure..
        you are very much aware how relocation is done in our country..the original amount to be paid is swallowed by the middlemen and the amount which reaches to these village people is just a small percentage of original amount..
        Again we see corruption becoming an issue ..someone has righjtly said remove corruption from any system and that system will be sound ,healthy ,up and running..

  19. Armored Fish Says:

    Good but having a blog is not going to serve the purpose. Indians are very corrupt by nature. And TIGERS are purchasable and sale able lie everything else is there in this land exemplified by a party (and political parties who have made the corruption problem into the number one industry. The TIGER problem has its links there.

    • Armored Fish – Thanks for your comment, Blogging creates awareness,it is a small step in the right direction. There are a myriad of issues to deal with. India’s NDTV have launched a campaign recently with a private company to save these beasts. this is what I had written

      I have been watching the proceeding of the campaign closely. The key threats for the tiger are deforestation, encroachment and poaching to name a few amongst a myriad other issues and imbalances in the eco system.

      Some people are cynical about the efforts taken by NDTV and state that it is a TRP game and so forth. We are first to criticize why cannot we be first to encourage. We must give our 100% support to their cause, what the Government is not capable of doing, we have private entities who are stepping in and making a magnanimous effort to protect this wonderful animal. Funds are vital to protect the reserves and the Tiger’s habitats, big wigs in corporate circles and icons like AB are the only ones who are capable of raising awareness ( as we tend to take notice of icons) and raising funds for the cause.

      Some views of mine –

      * It is vital to employ the villagers within at least twenty square km radius of the reserves so that they are not tempted to partake in illegal activities concerning the tiger and other forms of wild life.

      *Secondly, villagers must be educated and taught to coexist with nature, it is a mutually beneficial exercise, so long as their eyes are opened to it, they are bound to pay heed.

      * Funds are important to preserve these beasts. How can we help? Plan your next holiday in a tiger reserve. I am off to Bandipur in Karnataka soon.We must visit any of the 28 tiger reserves in the country. Remember that the more visitors that these reserves have, the more funds they will generate to protet and preserve these animals. There is a 80 20 rule to most things in life. Even if 80% of the money gets swallowed up by corrupt Govt officials, 20 % is bound to reach where it should. Let us not deprive the tiger, the 20 %.

      * The Tiger is high up on the food chain,therefore it becomes equally important to protect wild life under him. If there are not enough under him in the reserves, the tigers tend to stray to neighboring villages.

      * The Government must ban any form of human habitats in an area of atleast 20 sq km radium of these reserves, if development has already occured efforts must be taken to relocate these villages.

      * Security within the forests is the key. Rangers must be equipped adequately and also paid adequately so that they are not tempted to provide inside info on the tiger’s whereabouts to poachers.

      * Border security and customs must be tightened especially along the porous areas. China sources Tigers from India for their chinese medicine as they use it’s entrails. The biggest escape route for poachers to China is along the north east borders that we share with them.

      *We can raise awareness by pledging support, blogging about them, joining groups and forums and donating to wwf. As I said before, we are wonderful in criticizing and pathetic in encouraging. For the sake of the tiger we must change our attitudes.

  20. Sharmila,

    Tigers are not as dangerous as say a Cheetah or a Lion’s pride. It is not known to be territorial in that sense. A Cheetah or a Lion challenges another predator in it’s territory. Tigers stray all over the jungles. Here today, gone tomorrow.

  21. Sharmila,

    In a recent article in The Hindu about a protest against planned sale of tiger paste in Vietnam, it was mentioned that from a 100,000 tigers a century ago, the number has come down to 3200. In 12 years, wild tigers will be extinct, if we do not save it.

    In the olden days, perhaps people were unaware of what extinction is, but now its sad that despite all the organizations and awareness campaigns, illegal killing, trafficking, and trade continues.

    I wonder if there have been any initiatives in China towards saving the tiger. If people stop buying, the selling will stop.

    An interesting article on the same. This is the first time I am hearing about something called tiger bone wine!

    http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0628-neme_tigers_ge_gabriel.html

    Aish.

    • Aish – China is the biggest culprit. It sucks in it’s treatment towards all animals. The WWF needs to step in , but, China wields too much power. It does what it wants. Every time there is a natural disaster there, it is a vindication.

  22. Very Well written Sharmilaji. I have been visiting Bandhavgad since my college days and have been capturing the magnificent beast through my camera. I have seen and heard about Tigers campaigns, but none shook me like the way “1411″ count shook me… The cub TV ad left me with tears rolling! . I hope the world wakes up to avoid another extinction like the Dodo. I cant stop being sad after reading this stuff…I am 100% dedicating myself in helping this campaign reach all. hope this blog can create some awareness among ppls.

  23. Hi Sharmila,

    Good post and a good initiative too. The documentary is nice and quite a lot of work would have gone into the making as getting so much footage of the Tiger requires a lot of time and effort.

    The suggestions in the documentary are perfect but the issue is that they best work only in theory. We have the Wildlife Protection Act since years but it kills the very purpose of “Protection” if not implemented properly. This has been the case for years and the government is only doing their little bit as there has been so much awareness around the dwindling numbers of Tigers.

    In India we have more than what is required to dramatically increase the Tiger population; what is lacking is Political Will.

    It is also shocking to see so many tourists and tour companies operating in the territory that is a so called “Reserve”. Again it is a money making exercise by the tour operators and the government. I am sure there were no limits on the licences given to these companies.

    Hope the situation improves at government level as this is their responsibility. No doubt the private companies are doing a great job however they will not continue this forever and the government needs to come to the party sooner rather than later!

    Regards,
    Deepan

    • Deepan – That is right, The Government must act now and they hold the cards that will actually save these animals. It is frustrating to see what little is done. I wish we can shake up this useless Congress Govt!! The RTI act is the layman’s tool, petitions are the layman’s tool but it requires organizing ourselves collectively. Numbers are important to make a difference. If we can pull the various tiger loving groups together on FB etc which run into the thousands to kick the Govt awake, it would be a dream come true!

    • Deepan – Yes, the tourists footage was startling, but again a catch 22 situation, the money that tourism brings feeds the staff and hopefully protects the animals. There needs to be a limit as you say on the licenses issued and the parks must be closed at certain times during the year, especially during migration and breeding seasons.

      • Sharmila, totally understand that it Tourism brings in revenue but I hope someone is monitoring the practices adopted by the tour operators and they are not crossing their limits or exploiting the advantage they have with regards to permits to enter the Reserves.
        Also it quite clearly states in the documentary that these big cats should be left alone without any disturbance at all.
        Catch 22 really however I still think that there should be zones where tourists should not be allowed at all. Let the numbers go up and there will be plenty of opportunity to get a close view. The situation at the moment is alarming!

      • Deepan – Agree.

  24. Anand Khare Says:

    This is Raj Kapoor’s take on importance of Tiger in life,

  25. Muraliraja Says:

    Sharmila,
    Well written post. I guess, your post satisfies the purpose. Create awareness. And certainly it did create awareness in me. Will do my bit to save this majestic animal.

    P.s: Haven’t watched the documentary. Will do once I get back my laptop.

  26. Soumya Banerjee Says:

    Simple online conversations of urban people can’t save Tiger; put forward a wholesome constructive ideas to save them.
    We are ready to fight back. As an Officer of Law Enforcement Agency, first we have to enact laws in Parliament to ammend existing laws, and to make all sorts of poaching ( including entry within the limit of National Park with fire arms should be a ‘sessions triable offence’ like other offences against body and property as mentioned in Indian Penal Code. Discipline comes from fear only. More over Central Govt. should ask all State Govt.’s to allow extra sanction of post in forest department to raise a ‘sleuth force’ to operate in and around the vicinity of the National Park, like other state Intelligence Agencies. We can’t do anything with this rudimentary/ incapable infrastructure of Stae Forest Departments. Regards. Soumya Banerjee

    • Thank you for your ideas, this is the purpose of urban conversations, I get to hear from people who make a difference and their suggestions go a long way. Thank you Sowmya.

  27. Dear Sharmila,

    Haha! It fells so good to be back with you and your EF 🙂 I have missed this forum for the past few weeks due to various family commitments. I did find a few comments under the name “Shubha” so I shall change my ID to Shubha M to avoid confusion. It seems that I have missed reading quite a number of posts including a few written by Reader on Upanishads….!

    Involving the younger generation in this mission to save our National animal is sure to bring in good results. Since I am very closely associated with a school I have thought of showing the documentary on tigers that you have posted to all the children with a Hindi Commentary, as it will reach them better.

    I was hooked on to NDTV the day they aired their show with Amitji and have complete regard and respect for them for having taken up such a cause. Criticism for their campaign is completely uncalled for.

    Your post again reaches out to everyone. How about reading out your post too along with the documentary?? Permission granted??

    Shubha M

  28. I have a solution.

    Clone them. Produce 1000 clones every month. In an year we’ll have 12000 more than we have now and the species will be saved.

  29. This is a awesome story.

  30. chiranjeev singh Says:

    there is actually a need to save tigers

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