Save The Symmetry - CC#2

It was a hot summer night. The rumble of the diesel engine penetrated into the darkness. The passengers in the jeep were all silent.  If you were travelling with them, up ahead in the distance you could see the flickering fire line on the hills. You could smell the burnt wood and the smoke and feel the rustle on the warm air against your face. As the jeep took a U-turn, there was a quick movement on the road.  For a fleeting second or two, two burning eyes flashed across. Sensing danger, the driver slammed the brake and the vehicle came to a halt. There, in the middle of the road, standing in full glory, was a majestic, fully grown, Royal Bengal Tiger.

Now, the above were the words of my grandfather. I was fortunate to hear many such tiger tales. Yes, tigers are majestic animals. They are revered & respected, awed & admired and loved & loathed at the same time. They feature prominently in our mythology, folklore, movies and literature.

However, since the time of my grandfather, lot of water has flown under the bridge. Lots of forests have been cut down. Lots of tigers have been killed. The tiger is now reduced to pixels flashing on the screen. We see them only on the National Geographic or on forwarded face book posts.

Today, the reality of tigers is quite sad.

The global population of wild tigers at the start of the 20th century was more than 100,000. Today, it is less than 4000.  There are only 1500 adult tigers in the wild in India. World over, there were 9 existing sub-species of tigers at the beginning of 20th century.  But, over the last 50 years, 3 tiger sub-species have become extinct. The major cause of decimation of tigers is habitat destruction and poaching.  The situation is alarming. If we do not act now, very soon there will not be a single tiger left in the wild.

You may be wondering how it matters to you if the tiger continues to live or gets extinct. Let me remind you that the tiger is our national animal. It is our pride. This by itself is reason enough for us to save the tiger. But there is a scientific reason too. With tigers getting extinct, the populations of prey species would drastically increase. They would then ravage the jungles. End of jungles would mean the end of the biggest suppliers of oxygen and a significant drop in rainfall. As per ecologists a tiger is an umbrella species. By saving them, we rescue every species under their ecological umbrella. The presence of tigers in the forest is an indicator of the well being of the ecosystem. Its extinction is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter; Break down of the eco-system would threaten our own existence.

You may be thinking what can I do here? Well each of us has a role to play. Please lend a hand for tiger conservation. You can influence those people that are a part of your lives. Educate them about this issue. Get them involved. Further, you can help financially to causes such as Project Tiger. You can help the cause in any way you can. It can be as small as liking their face book page or subscribing to the feeds on tiger conservation efforts and increasing the awareness.

My grandfather had a huge collection of books. Whenever I went to our village, I would rummage through the book shelves. A particular poem in an old dog-eared book of poetry had caught my attention.

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright - In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye   - could frame thy fearful symmetry

Poet William Blake in those famous lines asked the tiger whose immortal hands created it. I do not know if the tiger could answer that back; but today if someone asks whose hand is responsible for the death of tigers, we all know it is ours – the humans. A stitch in time saves nine. The same hand can save the tiger as well. Let us join our hands and with our collective effort, try to save the tiger. Let us save the beautiful symmetry. 

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