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Posted By: Neha Dixit
They've been our best friends as Tigger and Hobbes as children. They adorn our flags and coat of arms as a symbol of strength. W revere them in folklore and worship them in many religions yet we are not being able to save our tigers!
Let’s begin with some hard hitting facts.
The Tiger’s habitat used to reach from Eastern Turkey to North Korea in the east, northward to Siberia and southward to Bali. Now they only have small islets of forest to live in over these territories and have gone completely extinct in places like Bali, Java and the riverine corridors around the Caspian sea.
In the last century, the Tiger population world over has plummeted from 100,000 to 4000, which essentially means almost 96% of tigers has been lost.
Unfortunately, Tigers are indigenous to some of the most densely populated places on earth, causing intense man-animal conflict.
What many people don’t realise is how this one animal can save our forests and us. Tiger being the apex of the food chain in the wild keeps the population of herbivores in check, which saves the forests undergrowth from being overgrazed, hence providing enough food for the wild population. The math is simple!
Efforts are being made world over to save this beautiful creature and one such effort is the AIRCEL-NDTV Save Our Tigers Initiative. As a part of this initiative, NDTV GOOD TIMES’ travel show No Big Deal put together a special edition - a ‘Tiger Special.
The show travels to Bandhavgarh and Panna in Madhya Pradesh looking at 2 completely different forests with different stories to tell. The former, one of the biggest Tiger tourism hub with the highest density of Tigers in the wild & the latter, a park that lost all its Tigers and has finally set a new benchmark in Tiger conservation.
With big daddy Bandhavgarh & its highest density of tigers in the wild, a few hours away, why pick Panna? Having recently returned from Panna Tiger Reserve for a ‘No BiG Deal’ Tiger special, here are 5 reasons why I would strongly recommend it for a wildlife holiday – Number one, the absolutely stunning landscape… Ken, one of the cleanest and bluest rivers in India meanders through the reserve from South to North for almost 60 kms. The Ken valley adds magic to the forest & is great for spotting Gharials, a crocodile breed native to the Indian subcontinent and Muggers – the crocodile of the marsh.
As you move from one plateau to another, the landscape changes so dramatically, the Terrain is undulating , heavily forested & dotted with 2000 year-old rock paintings.
Post monsoon you’re treated with many streams and waterfalls, with vultures circling overhead or eye-level if you are at a vantage point.
But most of all it’s the Tiger story that adds to the drama of travelling to Panna. With no Tigers by the end of 2009, Panna now roars with almost 20 big cats. Five adults were reintroduced from neighbouring Tiger parks of Madhya Pradesh, of which 2 Tigresses were orphaned and hand-reared.
These two ladies along with the other 3 have not only taken to the wild, formed their territory and started hunting, but are also breeding. Panna, today has almost a dozen cubs frolicking in the park.
As Field Director of Panna tiger reserve , R Srinivasmurthy, responsible for the success said: “There is poetic justice in this happening at Panna where the entire Tiger population was lost.”
One of nature’s most beautiful and crucial creations is on the brink of extinction and all because of us. We have robbed them off what has always been rightfully theirs - their homes and food, their skins and bones, their babies and their mothers. Here’s hoping that bed time stories for our future generations don’t begin with – Once upon a time there was an animal called the Tiger!
Watch the Special Episode
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