Raising funds for the protection of wild tigers is tough. These magnificent cats - cited as among the world's favourite animals and surely one of nature’s most exquisite creations - are suffering from a catastrophic ambivalence as the world takes it eye off the crisis that they face. Numbers have crashed from 100,000 in 1900 to a highly vulnerable c.3,500 - 3,900 today. Human expansion continues to destroy their forest homes and deplete their prey, driving them into ever decreasing territories where conflict with other tigers and humans leads to more losses. Add to this the continuing illegal trade in tiger parts for home decor, amulets, trinkets and ineffective medicines and any hope for the future survival of the wild tiger seems misplaced.
But, giving in to the spiralling negativity of those who say extinction is a natural consequence of evolution is not an option. They cannot possibly understand what is at stake.
Tigers are forest dwellers; ambush predators that rely on cover to stalk their prey. Without forests there can be no tigers. And, where you find trees and rivers and herds of grazers you find a healthy eco-system managed - like the sun amid the stars - by the presence of tigers. They regulate the herbivores ensuring that overgrazing doesn't occur - that over large herds of deer don't break down the river banks and ravage the forests. Remove the tiger and the forests will suffer. Remove the forests and we all suffer.
Some of us have been lucky enough to experience a forest full of hidden tigers, felt true primal fear and the electricity that crackles through our bloodstream as the alarm calls of other animals signal the coming of a tiger. Some may have witnessed the emergence of the amber eyed cat with its liquid grace and its extraordinary, elegant strength. To see a tiger in the wild is a privilege - it fills you with awe and reverence. And, for all these reasons and a thousand more we must come together to save the tiger.
With no notable Royal to champion its cause the tiger struggles to attract the media attention enjoyed by the elephant and rhino. Securing support and raising awareness has never been more critical.
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and its TigerTime Campaign are based on the principle that it is only through the collective actions of like-minded individuals that change can be brought about. As Mahatma Gandhi said 'be the change you want to see in the world'.
As the monsoon season closes India’s national parks to tourists we should remember that the tigers are still there and that the poachers are not far behind.
It is thanks to your amazing support that we can fund the park rangers throughout the year. Their work to protect precious tiger populations continues whatever the weather and so must ours.
If you have donated to support our work in Kaziranga there is still something more that you can do to help protect wild tigers; spread the word. Tell your friends and families, your work colleagues and your business partners that unless we come together to raise awareness for this astonishing cat they will be gone … and with them, the living, breathing forests that keep us all alive. Please share this GlobalGiving update and the project it supports - it is only by our collective actions that we will be able to save the tiger.