Tiger Seminar Memento, Photo Credit: Dr Sudip
The national animal of India has admirers all throughout the globe. We have received considerable support for our Bengal Tiger project and we are extremely thankful to GlobalGiving for connecting us with passionate individuals like you. This month, our update focuses on how sensitization of the urban population, especially the youth can fuel long-term conservation efforts. We bring to you an activity from West Bengal, a state that harbours one of the most unique and conducive habitats for the mighty Bengal Tiger.
The cluster of islands at the convergence of the mighty river Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna form the “Sundarban Tiger Reserve”. They represent the world’s largest mangrove habitat and lie between West Bengal (India) and Bangladesh. These fragile tidal creeks hold an array of species, both rare and endangered. Noted ones like the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris), Gangetic river dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica), estuarine crocodile (Crocodilus porosus), small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus), marsh mongoose (Herpestes palustris) and others are harboured in this UNESCO World Heritage site. Along with 103 tigers (2015 Tiger census record India) the mangroves are also home to 4.5 million people. As per records, between 2010 and 2017, there have been 52 human deaths due to tiger attacks in the landscape. The main occupation of the fringe communities is fishing, honey and timber collection, which often compel them to often venture out into the swamps, bringing them dangerously close to tigers. Apart from the antagonism faced by local communities due to the daily threats they face on field, it Is sadly the lurking stories of man-eaters and the danger around tigers that the urban population of any city immediately relates to. The lack of exposure to nature and wildlife often makes people turn a blind eye to our unique and biodiverse Natural Heritage.
Along with conservation initiatives carried out with communities directly affected by Tigers, it is important to engage the urban sector and sensitize them on the current conservation issues and the threats Tigers in India face. Sensitizing students always plays a vital role in voicing ideas to older generations and the future. While on one hand, most Asian cultures have historically admired the tiger for its energy, strength and courage, on the other hand, tales of trophy hunting and man-eaters still give jitters to people. To cumulate the varied emotions towards this majestic species, Wildlife Trust of India supported a seminar titled “TIGERS” organised by a reputed autonomous college “Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira”, affiliated to the University of Calcutta. The seminar was organised by the Department of English to create an interest on Tigers and its significance across all disciplines ranging from science, art to literature. There was active participation of over 100 students from various universities and colleges across West Bengal and other states. The students were given the opportunity to submit proposals related to their respective disciplines keeping “Tigers” as the theme of interest. From the excellent response received, the best thirty papers and six posters were selected. The selected students were asked to present their research findings to the assembled audience. Eminent guests such as Newspaper editors, authors and professors were invited for the seminar. Mr Shiv Sahay Singh, Assistant Editor of The Hindu as the Chief guest, eminent author Anjana Basu and well-known Graphic Designer, Dr Pinaki De were some of the speakers invited to talk to the students on their areas of expertise. As a token of appreciation to all students presenting papers and posters, the book titled “Tiger by the Tale” by Venita Coelho was awarded to each. This book also reads about the cases of missing tigers in the Sundarbans Landscape and the stories behind them. The seminar helped as a creative gathering of students and professors celebrating our National Animal.
We hope to conduct more such activities in urban sectors to interact with students on India’s Wildlife. Along with such sensitization workshops and seminars, Wildlife Trust of India has also initiated a long term project to engage with the Sundarban landscape community and understand the ground realities to help mitigate the Human-Tiger conflict in the region. As we move forward and address critical conservation threats, your support would be most sought after.
Tiger Seminar Participants Photo Credits: Dr Sudip
Tiger Seminar, Photo Credits: Dr Sudip