Preserving tiger habitats in Manas Tiger Reserve, Assam, and Valmiki Tiger Reserve, Bihar. Conducting Anti-snare Walks in Bandipur and Nagarhole Tiger Reserves, Karnataka. Mitigating human-tiger conflict in the Terai landscape of Uttar Pradesh, in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, and through a Rapid Action Project in the Sundarbans, West Bengal. Training forest staff to prevent wildlife crime. Helping capture and prosecute poachers. Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) works to protect India’s tigers in several ways, through a myriad of projects across India’s tiger range states.
On July 29, 2017, WTI orchestrated and/or participated in Global Tiger Day celebrations in a number of its project areas, in concert with local communities, state forest departments, partner NGOs and other supporters. In all, above 1500 people were involved in these celebrations and the message of tiger conservation was spread to many others through social media.
* * *
In New Delhi, WTI, with its global partner the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), government partners the National Tiger Conservation Authority and Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), and NGO partners WWF-India and CMS Vatavaran, participated in a Global Tiger Day event at Vigyan Bhawan.
The Hon’ble Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Dr Harsh Vardhan was the Chief Guest at the event, which was attended by the environment and forest ministers of several tiger range states, MoEFCC officials, and over 1000 schoolchildren.
Dr Harsh Vardhan urged the children present to acquire the habit of “doing one environment friendly thing every day.” He also underscored India’s commitment to doubling its tiger population by 2022, in keeping with the St Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation (2010). “It is a moderate target”, he declared, “but even to achieve this moderate target nations have to be repeatedly reminded to conserve the tiger. Tiger conservation should be carried out every moment of the day and not celebrated merely as a one-day event.”
The Hon’ble Minister also released a protocol for conducting security audits of tiger reserves, a CD on “Glimpses of initiatives taken for Tiger Conservation in India based on Parliamentary Questions and Replies”, and a radio jingle to promote awareness about tiger conservation. The forest ministers present informed the audience about initiatives being undertaken to protect tigers in their respective states.
The event also included an art exhibition as well as two street plays on tiger conservation. Singer, music composer and conservationist Abhishek Ray also presented his song on the tiger. Mr Ray said that saving wildlife is largely a water and land issue. “We can recreate monuments but extinct animals cannot be bought back”, he added.
* * *
In Odisha, WTI’s Mobile Veterinary Service unit based in Similipal Tiger Reserve organised a drawing competition for schoolchildren from villages on the fringes of the tiger reserve. The event was organised with the Similipal Tiger Reserve Authority and the Creative School of Art and Craft, Baripada. About 100 students participated and received certificates and prizes.
* * *
In the Nagzira-Nawegaon wildlife corridor in Gondia, Maharashtra, a Global Tiger Day programme was held at the Zilla Parishad Upper Primary School in Sherpar village. The students and teaching staff were shown an IFAW-WTI documentary, Tigers are for Wild, in Hindi. A quiz based on the documentary was then held for the students and prizes were awarded to the winners. A total of 50 students and seven teachers participated in the event along with WTI’s Nitin Rawate and Hiwraj Raut.
In Brahmapuri, an event was organised at Nevjabhai Hitkarni College, the biggest college of the tehsil, in collaboration with the college’s nature club and the Green Being Foundation. Two talks, on ‘The Tiger and its Importance in Nature’ and ‘Youth and their Role in Conservation’ were given by WTI team members Nikhil Dandekar and Mahendra Raut. Born to be Wild, a short Hindi documentary on the tiger was also screened, followed by a quiz on tiger conservation. Some 300 students, the college Principal Dr Kokode, as well as faculty members of the Botany, Zoology, Sociology and other departments attended the event.
Also present on the oocasion were WTI’s Dr NVK Ashraf (Chief Veterinarian and Senior Director), Dr Mayukh Chatterjee (Head, Conflict Mitigation), Prafulla Bhamburkar (Regional Head), Anil Kumar (Project Head – Vidarbha Tiger Project), Prem Chandra Pandey (Project Head – Terai Tiger Project), and other team members of the Vidarbha Tiger Project, including Dr Disha Sharma (Veterinarian), Manisha Ashraf (Sociologist), Nikhil Dandekar (Field Biologist), Mahendra Raut (Field Officer), and Jaydeep Chandrahas.
Dr Mohan Wadekar, Head of the Postgraduate Department of Botany, gave a vote of thanks to the WTI team for celebrating Global Tiger Day with the college’s students and staff.
* * *
In Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, 200 schoolchildren chanting the slogan “Huli, namma rashtriya praani! Huli, rakshasi! Kadu, bellesi!” (‘The tiger is our National Animal! Save the tiger! Grow forests!’) arrived at the Karnataka Forest Department’s office in N Beguru for an event organised by the department, WTI and IFAW with support from Aircel.
Mr Ambadi Madava, IFS (Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve), Mr Parameshwara (Assistant Conservator of Forests, Bandipur Tiger Reserve), Mr Shankare Gowda (Assistant Conservator of Forests, Special Tiger Protection Force) and Mr Rudresh (Range Forest Officer, Special Tiger Protection Force) were in attendance, and spoke to the children about the importance of tigers and the need for their conservation.
The WTI team provided caps for the children and distributed prizes to the top ten winners of the painting and drawing competition organised at the event. The children also enjoyed an interactive session about tigers with wildlife enthusiast Rajkumar Devaraje, a short documentary on tigers, and a safari into the tiger reserve.