Save the tiger
If you follow my blog, you’ll know my book Black Tiger is out at an online retailer near you. It’s a paranormal romance set in India, Melbourne and Hong Kong, and the Royal Bengal Tiger is the centrepiece of the action. Why tigers? Why India?
I’ve had a love affair with India for a long time, ever since university where I studied Indian history as part of my BA (Hons). I’ve tried my best to portray a contemporary Indian setting in what is a fantasy novel. If my Indian readers note any mistakes, I ask their forgiveness and their indulgence, because I’ve written this book for the tigers.
I’ve always been an animal lover and like many other people, I adore the big cats, especially that magnificent solitary hunter, the tiger. I was horrified to learn that there are less than three thousand tigers still in the wild. Their numbers dwindle every year, through poaching and habitat destruction. In such a crowded country as India, the vast tracts of land needed for a viable wild tiger population can be difficult to justify. To its credit, the Indian Government has set aside large areas and removed villages in places like Pench to provide habitat. The development of tiger parks for tourists wishing to see the tigers in the wild is a viable way of conserving the tigers, as well as providing employment for the people. It’s worked well in Africa and here in Australia, where humpback whales have recovered from the brink of extinction and people flock to see them in the waters near where I live.
The alternative is to see them in zoos. Did you know there are more Bengal tigers in the US than there are in the wild? They’re in legitimate zoos, private zoos and private hands. As a result, there is a Big Cat Rescue organization in Florida which provides a sanctuary for ‘unwanted, abused or abandoned big cats.’ In 2011, the owner of a private zoo released all his animals, then shot himself. The police were forced to shoot many of the roaming animals, including eighteen Bengal tigers. Tigers are not pets; they don’t belong in zoos – even if we must have some in controlled environments to ensure their survival.
Poaching is a disgusting business. Tradition dies hard, but it’s pretty hard to justify the use of tiger body parts in traditional medicine. Ingesting bits of tiger doesn’t make you a tiger and the compounds which come from the tiger parts are all now produced synthetically. This article on Wikipedia gives a list of uses made of the parts of a tiger’s body, and the ways in which poachers make their kill. It’s interesting reading.
The prognosis is not good. Without support and action, tigers will be extinct in the wild in decades, if not less.
You know William Blake’s immortal poem?
Tyger, tiger, burning bright in the forests of the night
It will be a sad day indeed if that bright light is extinguished forever. The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation fights for the preservation of animal species. They need all the money they can raise. You can donate here or if you can’t afford much, buy Black Tiger and know that all profits will go to that organisation.