Indian Officials Need To Listen To Tiger Conservationists

Posted on November 7th 2018

roaring tiger

Recently Boris Johnson went on safari in Indian’s Ranthanbhore tiger reserve and made the bold proclamation that the goal of 10,000 tigers in the wild by 2050 should be set. That may sound a little radical but if we are to save this magnificent species from extinction in the wild there needs to a major shift in the minds of everyone involved in tiger conservation. This includes politicians, policy makers, scientists and conservationists all of whom have conflicting opinions on how best to save the species in India.

Political infighting not good for conservation

The sniping and petty politics is perhaps just as great a threat to the tiger’s survival in India as poaching and habitat loss is. Stakeholders undermining one another and not listening to diverse opinions has had a terrible effect on wildlife conservation in India. A new book by respected conservationist Dr Raghu Chundawat has levelled a number of accusations. The book titled “The Rise and Fall of the Emerald Tiger” is the culmination of one of the longest scientific research programmes on tigers in India’s Panna National Park.

Silencing criticism

Dr Chundawat alerted the management of the tiger reserve to the disappearance of tigers he was studying at the start of the millennium. The management failed to takes his findings seriously, were not proactive and did not cooperate with investigations into the disappearance’s. The park officials became increasingly hostile, not only did they want to sweep the bad news under the carpet, they also wanted to silence the respected scientist. What happened to Dr Chundawat is not an isolated case, with many other reports of victimisation throughout India over the years. Many are simply not publicised because the victims fear retribution and this is bad news for both private and public tiger conservation initiatives.

Tigers will be the losers

Despite many people in the wildlife conservation community choosing to remain silent, Dr Chundawat did not mince words and described his ordeal at the powers that be in quite some detail. The usually soft-spoken scientist says he received both veiled and overt threats from officials and was subjected to searches. The mistreatments eventually resulted in the termination of his very important research program and this represents a massive loss not just for the tigers in Panna but for conservation in general.

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