Monday, March 17, 2008

Campaign to save tigers.

Posted online: Monday , March 17, 2008 at 11:00:29
Updated: Sunday , March 16, 2008 at 11:22:18

Environmentalists have always been raising their concern to save tigers. After the latest tigers census that indicated that the number of tigers are decreasing, environmentalists have geared up to join hands to tackle the situation.
In wake of the situation, NDTV along with Sanctuary Asia Magazines initiated a mass campaign — Save the Tiger. Swathi Thyagrajan, NDTV’s senior special environment correspondent and wildlife documentary filmmaker is leading the campaign.

People gathered in large numbers, across the country to support the campaign, which started a fortnight back to stop the alarming decline in the number of tigers in India.

It culminated in a nationwide signature campaign on March 10. The campaign gained a tremendous support with over 4,80,000 signatures, SMSs and online petitions from major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Dehradun, Srinagar, Lucknow, Jaipur, Guwahati, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Patna and Ahmedabad.

Targeted towards children, Swati says the campaign received an overwhelming response from school children across the country.

“These jungles and animals do not belong to us but it the legacy that we will leave for the coming generation,” she says.

She adds a famous quote, we have not do not inherited the earth but we have borrowed it from the future generation. She added, “About 40 schools and more than 50 lakh students have come forward and contributed to the signature campaign.”

Several eminent personalities like Gautam Singhania, chairman & MD, Raymond, Milind Soman, Sheila Dixit, Delhi chief minister, Ajay Jadeja, former Indian cricketer; Tarun Gogoi, Assam chief minister, B C Khanduri, Uttarakhand chief minister, Quizmaster Derek O Brien, film maker Aparna Sen, actor Khushboo and cricket commentator Charu Sharma supported the campaign.

Swati said celebrities like well-known environmentalists and NGOs have backed the campaign. Bollywood stars Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham, Kareena Kapoor, Preity Zinta and Farhan Akhtar, Sporstsmen Rahul Dravid, Rajyavardhan Rathore, environmentalists and conservationists like Bittu Sahgal, editor, Sanctuary Magazine and the Kids for Tiger Group have come out to support this movement.

The participation by celebrities has given an impetus to the campaign. Swati said celebrities are now getting associated with a cause and they realise that their participation can make a difference.

On the solution to the decline in the tiger numbers, National Wildlife Board Member, Valmik Thapar, said, “Like the PM needs Black Cat commandoes for his protection, if the tiger has to live, it needs a protection group for it to make it safe.”

Appreciating the public’s response to the campaign, Bittu Sehgal, editor, Sanctuary Magazine said, “It is really a great occasion where so many people have come forward to sign in favour of this campaign. We actually want to convey the message across to the PM that we want the tiger to be saved across the nation as it is a sense of what India is.”

On being asked that why a campaign only for tigers where there are other endangered species like olive ridley turtles, she says to save tigers one need to save the environment first that includes both flora and fauna.

Tiger being the umbrella species, the campaign will affect the other species too. Swati says the fund allocation to the environment in this budget is a welcome step. “It is encouraging that the government has acknowledged the issue.”

Talking about the challenges she faced during the campaign, she says the biggest challenge was to organise the campaign so that it could be taken to a national level.

Our motive was to pressurise government to take steps to save tigers and in turn our environment. Another challenge was to convince people to physically come forward to take part in the signature campaigns.


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