It was while I was painting a book mark for The White Tiger that the thought hit me. And the work-in-progress book mark soon became something with a bigger purpose than just a piece of (art) paper to help me find my way back to what I was reading!
The White Tiger was a Christmas gift from B&P among three other books from Amazon. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale of two Indias, a glimpse of both which I had seen growing up in Bihar, and later living in Delhi and Bangalore, even though some of it was lived vicariously. Okay, I am not going to spin a yarn of Balram Halwai’s life here.
This post is not about The White Tiger.
As I was painting the dark stripes with my carbon black acrylic paint, I wondered which little striped predator was being poached and killed in India at that moment.
I am from India. I grew up with Tigers. Well, not literally. But listening to tales and fables about the Tiger, which were innate to our culture. My favorite of all tiger characters is Shere Khan, delectably scary and deliciously real.
But life is not always a comic book, well not for the Indian Tiger at least.
I noticed this video has been doing the rounds on Facebook, and so are a zillion others!
I don’t know if we as a country realize we have a collective moral obligation to save the Tiger. Stripey the Cub has 20, 020 fans on Facebook as I key in this post. The number of people joining such clubs/ fan pages/signature campaigns and showing support to the cause of saving the Tiger is growing every minute. Great. But what next?
But the number of Tigers walking the forests of India remains alarmingly low.
On February 2, 2010, what’s the number of Tigers in India?
If that’s an official census of the Indian Tigers, the actual number would be even lower. That’s probably a feel-good number for all the people who were waiting and counting when to really press the alarm buttons!
Sarcastic, eh? Yes. And rightfully so.
The other day I was alarmed and got hysterical watching a piece of news being reported on NDTV. I looked in horror as Amitabh Revi kept showing images of a Royal Bengal Tiger which was hunted down at the Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh and eaten by villagers in Numuk, while its skin was sold to some businessman for a whopping rupees one lakh and some change.
What were the ignorant villagers thinking? Do they still believe Tigers are a great source of aphrodisiac? Well, maybe its time they got Viagra out of vending machines.
I wonder if the NDTV reporter did any follow-up story with the District Magistrate or the National Park authorities or the Police of that district.
More alarming was the image of this little boy in the blue shirt. He was so close to the dead Tiger which was being readied for a royal barbeque as befits a king! The kid looked like he was enjoying this spectacle. Have his primary school teachers ever taught him anything about the extinction of Tigers? I will refrain from baiting myself into talking about the Indian education system here. Maybe another day, another post.
If I could just shake him up and the rest of the world! Before its too late. Before we only have stuffed toy tigers to gift our children, and documentaries on NatGeo to show our next generations and say – Look that WAS a TIGER!
Yes, its only a book mark sticking out. But that piece of paper is strong enough to stab at my consciousness.
I know I wouldn't trample on its pugmarks with my footprints…
And I know you will tread carefully too.
Lets give some dignity to the Tigers, after all we are soon entering the Year of the Tiger. Enough reason?
Some pictures of this majestic beast from my friend Jayanth Sharma’s lenses.