Monday, 8 April 2013

tiger lovers delight in March 2012 (Deccan Herald, March 2012)

March of the tiger

Mar 04, 2012 :
Gear up for the month-long celebration of tigers on Animal Planet with ‘Where Tigers Rule’, a programme that explores interesting insights into a tiger’s life and its habitat, writes Juanita Kakoty. 

Conserve : There is an urgent need to protect tigers.Leading wildlife channel Animal Planet dedicates March 2012 to the majestic tiger. As a part of the initiative to promote tiger conservation, the network has launched a month-long programme — Where Tigers Rule — from March 1, 2012 every night at 9 pm.

“The series has been filmed in India’s forests, grasslands and reserves like the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Ranathambore National Park in Rajasthan and the Sunderbans in West Bengal. 

The films in the series will highlight the tiger’s behaviour, predatory skills, family life and issues related to their poaching. It will feature the man-eating tigers of the Sunderbans, the motherly love of a tigress in Bandhavgarh, a family of tigers in Ranathambore, etc,” said Rahul Johri, senior vice-president and general manager, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, South Asia. “The wider purpose, of course, is to promote an interest in tiger conservation.”  

“Many great personalities like the leading tiger scientist Raghu Chandavat, natural historian and tiger conservationist Valmik Thapar, veteran environmental filmmaker Mike Pandey, prominent wildlife photographer and wildlife conservationist Belinda Wright are associated with this project,” Johri stated.

“Bollywood actor John Abraham will share some personal messages with viewers to raise awareness on tiger conservation.”

Emphasising on the role that Animal Planet plays, Johri emphasised that the focus is to “continuously spread awareness to conserve both animals and the planet. Animal Planet was launched all over the Asia-Pacific in 1998 and for 14 years now, it has provided a pretty large platform to connect animals with humans.”

Candid camera

Where Tigers Rule will explore interesting insights into a tiger’s life and its habitat. To cite a few, one could get to see Simon King, the popular star of Big Cat Diary, travel to the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve to film a tiger catching its prey. He is accompanied in his efforts by Indian wildlife cameraman Alphonse Roy, who has spent 17 years of his life filming and tracking animals in reserves, but without ever being able to film a tiger kill. In yet another show, one could catch a female tiger raise her cubs with incredible maternal affection. 

This is when tigers are generally known for their ferocity! The film also explores how a strict hierarchy exists among the cubs as a survival tactic. The camera also captures rare cases like that of a father tiger interacting with his offspring. Male tigers usually play no role in the rearing of cubs and might even occasionally kill them.

Programmes like Where Tigers Rule, in a climate of precarious conditions for the tiger, can hope to help develop interest and concern among people on a wider scale. In the 1970s, with the support of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) ‘Operation Tiger’ campaign, several countries like India, Indonesia, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand established robust wildlife protection laws and created new protected areas.

In India, for instance, the ‘Project Tiger’ campaign was launched in 1973 by the Government of India under Indira Gandhi that established the country’s first tiger reserves. The project also facilitated financial support from the government for tiger protection and the conservation of its habitat. 

Even before that, though, Gandhi had prohibited the export of tiger skin in 1968 and banned the shooting of tigers in 1970. However, since the 1980s, wildlife reserves’ protection has been in conflict with poachers and the needs of the surrounding communities. And despite all efforts and laws, in 2010, WWF listed the tiger, a solitary and territorial animal that is also one of the largest predators in the world, as one of the 10 key creatures facing extinction.  

Animal Planet, in its endeavour to raise awareness about tiger protection and conservation, is associating with Belinda Wright’s Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). Belinda Wright founded WPSI in 1994 to combat India’s wildlife crises by providing support and information about poaching and illegal wildlife trade, particularly of wild tigers.

In Johri’s words, “Belinda Wright is doing great work in wildlife protection and through Where Tigers Rule, we will encourage viewers to contribute to her fund.” Along those lines, then, there might be a lot to look forward to in what the Animal Planet terms as, the “month-long celebration of tigers” in March.

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