Website by AQEEL FAROOQI  



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Problems of identification of camera-trapped tigers
Indian Wildlife - challenges in the new millennium
The greying of India
On the road to extinction
A Tribute to Rumbha - the elephant  
State development project threatens state bird - Sarus
Shahtoosh ban gains momentum worldwide
The road to disaster
Killing nilgais in the name of crop protection
Warring NGO's may spell doom for the tiger
Where have all the sparrows gone?
Cuckoos that fly out of crows' nests
Corbett park woes continue to mount
A question on post mortem examinations in the wild
Is it time to 'cry wolf' again?
Lifting of US sanctions may boost wildlife conservation
Migratory waterfowl may be hit by war in Afghanistan
UP wetlands to provide improved habitat to waterfowl
Anthrax as a potent wildlife killer
Man-elephant conflict takes heavy toll
Demoiselle cranes fly to safety in India
How long lasting are conservation victories
Fake tiger skins : a knotty disguise
Who cares for the wild here anyway?
A tribute to Charger - the long living tiger
Draining of wetlands threatening wildlife
Wildlife management needs rapid response units
Dudhwa loses another tiger
Indian Wildlife Board meets after five years

 WILDLIFE WINDOW | Aqeel Farooqi

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | July 18, 2001



If a disagreement on a mere choice of words can bring a summit of nations to naught - as happened recently with India and Pakistan at Agra - it would hardly come as a surprise that a difference of opinion, an altercation, or maybe plain mutual dislike between the heads of two leading Indian conservation NGO’s should be enough to jeopardize the very future of the Indian tiger, which ostensibly is so pivotal to the fulfillment of the avowed objectives that these NGO’s stand for. According to a recent media report, an "ugly spat" between the CEO of WWF-India and the Director of Traffic-India has prompted the parent body WWF-International, to put its Tiger Conservation Programme (TCP) on hold for the moment, and freeze all its conservation related funds to WWF-India. This, if effected for any measure of time, would mean that all conservation activities in India which are presently being funded by the WWF would come to an abrupt standstill, thereby causing the tiger to become the direct casualty.

The need for delving into the reasons and intricacies that may have been responsible for bringing the concerned NGO’s to such a head, hardly seems to be of any importance since it is not likely that they would go much beyond an ego or personality clash. However, the ramifications and the cascading effect this would have on the plight of the Indian tiger are more critical, and it would be more worthwhile to look at conservation areas that are likely to suffer a negative impact due to this stringent action by WWF.

The extent of the reach and benefits of the Tiger Conservation Programme to the Indian conservation effort can be gauged by the fact that it is possibly the largest funded campaign by an NGO in India which is aimed at conserving an endangered species. It does this by contributing substantially towards augmenting and strengthening the management of tiger reserves in cooperation with the central government and the state governments in which these reserves are located. The material help is provided in the form of much-needed equipment like communication sets, vehicles, boats etc, while direct financial support is also extended to park managements in cases where expedient funds are required.

It also contributes, directly or indirectly, to counter illegal trade in tiger parts through the creation of a network of informers in sensitive areas and passing on this information to enforcement agencies for them to make seizures. Research projects and studies are funded for assessment and monitoring of tiger habitats, and funding schemes are instituted in tiger reserve areas with the intention of reducing human-tiger conflict through payment of compensation for cattle-killing by tigers. TCP also funds and arranges legal support to defend field personnel who are taken to court for their tiger conservation work, and further catalyses the motivation of committed field personnel by instituting and distributing awards for special contributions made by them in the field of tiger conservation. It goes without saying that these activities, funded out of the TCP, go a long way in indirectly fulfilling the budgetary shortfalls which park managements are constantly faced with due to the paucity of finances at the disposal of state governments.

On the other hand, Traffic (Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce) is a joint programme of Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), operating through its various country offices throughout the world. In our country, Traffic-India has been acting as the wildlife trade monitoring arm of WWF-India, with the broad goal of curbing illegal wildlife trade dealing in animal and plant derivatives. It does this through wildlife trade studies, field investigations in support of enforcement agencies, creation of a database relevant to wildlife trade in India, and arranging of training for the country’s enforcement agencies for combating wildlife crimes.

Therefore, a properly dove-tailed execution of their programmes and schemes makes both WWF-India and Traffic-India essential to the long-term survival of the Indian tiger. But in this worst-case scenario, if the are to come to loggerheads and become locked in adversarial combat due to the falling out of individuals who have been placed at the helm to provide direction and leadership to these organizations, it would be the worst comment on their commitment and resolve to save the tiger.

It can surely be conceded that with the huge amount of funds being brought into the country from international donors, tiger conservation in India has become big business. It is not surprising then, that these donor agencies sometimes have to organize their activities on corporate principles, including the not so healthy ones like competition and survival. But if they pause to consider the adverse impact this tends to have on the tiger in the field, they should be prepared to take some of the blame for the steady loss of tiger numbers in India, which is painfully highlighted by the increasing frequency of seizures of tiger skins and bones from all across the country. A blame that is today being conveniently passed off entirely on to the hapless state forest departments.