Numbers are important but tigers also should thrive in their natural habitat

Lalit Shastri

Forest and wildlife managers, more particularly the committed Field Directors and staff, have reason to rejoice over the latest tiger population figures. Surely, they deserve credit. What also should be noted at this juncture is the leading role played by organisations like Sanctuary Asia, Wildlife Protection Society of India and CREW (Crusade for Revival of Environment and Wildlife) as well as stalwarts like Bittu Sahgal, Belinda Wright, and Valmik Thapar in keeping the tiger in sharp focus and maintaining pressure on the concerned enforcement authorities and managers of forests to ensure they worked concertedly keeping the larger objectives of conservation in view. It is due to the whole dynamics that we stand where we are today.
Anti-poaching measures, conservation and protection initiatives for retaining and reviving forest corridors and the relocation and resettlement of villagers from the Tiger Reserves has delivered good results. The euphoria over the tiger numbers should not lead to complacency. Tiger numbers, though important, are not the end all. People should know that more than numbers, it is important that the tiger that sits at the apex of the biotic pyramid should be able to thrive and regenerate in their natural habitat besides the tiger reserves. Only if that happens, we will know that the forest is a living forest and it’s a healthy ecosystem. Only the gullible and those blind to the ground situation would say all is well (with our forests). Whereas in real terms, we are on a rapid downward slide when it comes to the factors threatening the forest ecosystem and the survival of countless species. The status of our forests remains a matter of serious concern.

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