About a year ago, ‘saving the tiger’ was the hottest cause to endorse. Actor Amitabh Bachchan even become the ambassador of one such campaign, and auctioned some belongings to raise funds. But soon, the fad passed and the number of tigers in India continued to drop.
According to Belinda Wright, the executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, the number of tiger deaths this year has been especially alarming. “Last year, we lost 13 tigers in total. And in two months in 2012, seven deaths have been reported,” she says, who was glad to be associated with Animal Planet to highlight the issue. “The official figure currently is 1,706, but this problem is not going away. Awareness is crucial. And TV, in this case, really does reach out.”
Dedicating this entire month to the big cat, the channel is currently airing the show Where Tigers Rule, every night at 9 pm. Shot in and around areas populated with tigers such as Rajasthan’s Ranthambore National Park, West Bengal’s Sunderbans and Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh National Park, the show documents the state of the fast-diminishing species and addresses its clash with human settlements.
“The idea is to concentrate on the effort to tell people, which is why we’ve also got wildlife filmmaker Mike Pandey lending his voice. We also have actor John Abraham giving personal messages and asking viewers to sit up and take notice,” says Rahul Johri, senior vice president and general manager, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, South Asia.
Pandey and John have shot scenes where they directly talk to the audience about how they can contribute. Incidentally, one of the many issues that wildlife enthusiasts face is the lack of know-how when it comes to ways in which they can participate.
Ask Wright about this, and she says, “People need to be informed. They should care, and while I know it may not sound like much, speak about the problem whenever possible. It needs support from everyone, including political and judicial bodies. More importantly, people should financially benefit from protecting wildlife areas, in order to keep them driven. For instance, local inhabitants in areas populated with tigers can be provided biogas or LPG, so they don’t need firewood; and instead of grazing in the open, their stock can be store fed. There are a lot of things that can be done.”
Where Tigers Rule will air every night this month on Animal Planet at 9 pm.