Yet another cricketer is set to join the cause for protecting Indian tigers but not without a controversy.
Ice-cool Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni had decided to lend his name for tiger conservation on the lines of former captains Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid.
His preferred choice for the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand, the state of his family’s origin, has landed him in a spot. Corbett is celebrating 75 years of existence and for the mega celebration in Ram Nagar, the state government had invited Dhoni.
The cause for his tiger trouble was his adopted state Jharkhand, which has a tiger reserve, Palamu and wanted him to be brand ambassador for the big cat promotion in the state.
Jharkhand government had announced five acres of land for Dhoni in Ranchi after India won the cricket World Cup earlier this month and did not like the idea of promoting healthy tiger population of Corbett.
Unlike Corbett, Palamu is in the poorest region of the state and have almost nil tourism revenues to invest on tiger protection. Palamu’s tiger population has not been very good as compared to Corbett. As per the latest tiger estimation Palamu has 16 tigers in an area of 771 sq kms as against 214 in 2,295 sq kms.
“Palamu needs Dhoni charisma to revive,” said an environment ministry official.
Dhoni, known for his diplomatic ways in tackling cricketing controversies, has promised Jharkhand government to do his bit for promoting tigers of the state while keeping his promise with Uttarakhand government. Jharkhand has only one tiger reserve unlike Uttarakhand, where tigers are found even in Rajaji National Park.
His decision has left foresters from two states and Environment minister Jairam Ramesh a happy lot. “A good reason to smile for tigers after healthy population increase,” Ramesh said.
Dhoni is not the first cricket, whose love for tigers has impressed Ramesh. Both Kumble and Dravid had been in touch with him on tiger and wildlife protection issues.