Today, ‘The Save Our Tigers’ campaign centred around Stripey the orphan cub, will culminate in a 12-hour telethon aired live across all NDTV channels, starting 11 am. There will be call-in chats and ground reporting from three main hubs, including the Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra with Amitabh Bachchan, Pronoy Roy and Vikram Chandra holding fort.Activities like design-a-tiger logo, musical acts by Mohit Chauhan, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Salim-Suleiman and the band Nine, four ranger felicitations and fund-raising drives are part of the endeavor aimed at creating awareness and raising funds for Rapid Response Teams to protect tigers from extinction. Bachchan who as brand ambassador for tourism in Gujarat has promoted the Gir National Park, says, "It’s important to create the right infrastructure required to protect the tigers."
Earlier, Mohit Chauhan’s 10-song album, Fitoor, had a song, Jeene de… dedicated to the campaign. More recently, Abhishek Ray, composer, conservationist and authorised tiger tracker, has come up with two songs that have got him the nod from the government.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, headed by minister of state, Jairam Ramesh, along with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (earlier Project Tiger set up by Indira Gandhi in the 1970s and working closely with the PMO to enforce tiger protection) has chosen, Tiger se jungle, jungle se baarish, barish se nadiya, nadiyo se hai haryali, tiger hai toh hum bhi hain, tum bhi ho, saare Bharat mein hai khusali… as the official tiger anthem.
“This is the first time that a government body has chosen an anthem to spread the message,” says Ray. In two weeks, both songs are expected to air on the Doordarshan channels and AIR, with videos posted on the NTCA website.
Meanwhile, the songs were played at the Global Tiger Summit at St Petersburg recently and the global initiative of the World Bank, favourably impressed, wants Ray to come up with similar English versions for an international audience.
Ray, who’s been on several tiger census, touring the country on foot with only a stick in hand, insists he’s living proof of the fact that tigers don’t attack unless threatened. But thanks to builders, developers, deforestation, poachers and villagers, the protected wildlife corridors are fast shrinking.
“Today, a cub driven out by his father at the age of one-and-a-half to mark his own territory that he will zealously protect from other male tigers, has no place to go. He encounters humans and development everywhere,” rues Ray, asserting we need to protect these flagship spaces so not just tigers, but even leopards, bears and elephants can thrive. “The money coming for the cause should be used to extend these corridors. And fines for killing the tiger should be upped, making it an economic offence.”