‘Ignore Human Lives’ — West’s Wildlife Obsession And India’s Save The Tiger Campaign

Inhabited forested parts of the country are reeling under an outbreak of deadly big-cat attacks. But insensitive urban Indians are engrossed in the Save The Tiger campaign hype.

Save The Tiger campaign: Western model

Nadim Siraj

November 23, 2023: While people in the cities are sipping chai in shiny glass offices, rural Bharat is facing an epidemic of big cats on a killing spree. Tigers and leopards across Bharat’s green cover are treating villages like their personal buffet. Tiger attacks and tiger-attack deaths are shooting up. But it is not making it to the evening news. Urban folks are rather engrossed in the Save The Tiger campaign hype.

Picture this – 53 lives were lost to big-cat attacks in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district in just one year. Tigers claimed 44 lives, leopards killed nine. Villages in Uttarakhand are imposing night curfews after a surge in tiger attacks. In Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh, leopards are playing a deadly game of hide and seek, snatching away precious lives.

Hold your breath, because here’s an alarming fact – Bharat’s wild-tiger count has now crossed 3,000. Wildlife fans, sitting in their comfort zones in big cities, are cheering. City people are obsessed with big cats. But this rising number is a serious concern for rural Indians. Why? You see, 75% of the world’s tiger population lives in Bharat. And villages in and around the jungle areas are sitting targets of the predators.

Save The Tiger campaign: A hype

Urban people feel uncomfortable to talk about it – either because they are insensitive, or they are misled, or they have some hidden agenda. When big cats go on a rampage, it is only a filler in the news. It is shown for a few fleeting seconds on TV. And newspapers will slot a small square space in the inside pages, that’s it.

Human deaths due to big cats are a footnote, which is a contribution of the Save The Tiger campaign hype. But if humans get near a tiger, forget even killing it, it becomes breaking news. When villagers kill tigers in self-defence, it is reported as a heartless attack on endangered animal. But what about the endangered rural humans?

Do your own research, and you will see what I mean. Google up news reports about hunters poaching tigers and leopards. And look at news reports about predators killing villagers. Look for the same two things in newspapers as well. You will find a clear difference in coverage. The news is played up only when humans kill predators. Why the double standards? Why are rural human lives less precious than big cats? What’s this West-oriented fanaticism about the Save The Tiger campaign?

There is a standard argument that urban people make, especially those who are blind fanatics of the Save The Tiger campaign. It’s a misleading argument. They say humans are paying the price for trespassing into the habitat of the big cats. But here’s a thought – why not create a safety net for the villagers? Villagers don’t walk into a forest just to disturb the big cats.

In many cases where villages are in jungle areas, big cats target people because they are easy prey. Often, villagers have pass through forests daily to go for work or to earn their livelihood. They become easy targets for predators. That’s a routine story. In contrast, stories of poaching and hunting by villagers are rare. That’s the reality about the Save The Tiger campaign.

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