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The paperback edition features a new Preface, 'We Cannot Save the Indian Tiger', critically reviewing the current tiger population in India and the conversation measures undertaken.
The royal Bengal tiger is on the verge of extinction. There have been other moments in the past when the tiger in India has been threatened. This book traces the history of such crises and conservation efforts to battle them from the nineteenth century right up to the present crisis. The tiger as a trophy has always been valued and its very abundance in the past has spelt terrible excesses against it. But the tiger has always had its champions and the continuities in the conservation efforts are intriguing
Thapar points out that the arguments used by British conservationists to interest politicians in its preservation mostly underlined its economic wisdom and Thapar has often used the same tactics himself! At two other moments in time in India's history as an independent nation, the tiger's existence has been threatened. Both were tided over by concerned, capable, and decisive political leadership at the helm of affairs. The first in fact saw the genesis of Project Tiger in 1973 – the only proud moment in independent India's tiger conservation history. This time round the threat is different, more potent, and by far the most severe. Its use in Chinese medicine has replaced trophy hunting as the most potent threat to the tiger and organized and armed poaching and smuggling gangs with international links operate fearlessly in many of our national parks.
Thapar fears that issues of poverty and inequity have diluted the mission focus of the Task Force – constituted by the Prime Minister of India to deal with the crisis – of preventing the tiger's disappearance off India's map. He is convinced that the only solution is to create inviolate protected areas, to seal off the country's national parks forthwith as it were. He points out that tiger habitats form a very small percentage of India's land area and sealing them off from human populations is surely a tiny price to pay for conserving an invaluable and irreplaceable national heritage.
- The Early Days
- The Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
- Independent India: 1947-1964
- Countering the First Crisis
- The Second Crisis
- The Third Crisis
- A Plan of Action to Ensure the Long Term Survival of Tigers
Valmik Thapar is an internationally celebrated tiger and wildlife conservationist. He is a member of the National Board of Wildlife chaired by the Prime Minister, and is the author of twenty-one books on tigers, wildlife, and Africa, most recently The Tiger: Soul of India, An African Diary: 12 Days in Kenya (OUP 2009), Ranthambhore: 10 Days in the Tiger Fortress, The Illustrated Tigers of India, and Tiger: The Ultimate Guide.
"An authoritative book"
- The Hindu