I am in awe (and a little jealous) of the tiger. They are indeed magnificent animals!!! The ones in India belong to the Royal Bengal Tiger subspecies. In India, tigers have always been an important part of the culture and mythology and invariably symbolize magnificence and power. Now you know why I am a little jealous!!! All considered, it is hard to describe just how majestic and heart-stopping they are until you actually sight one in the wild. Most of you may only have seen tigers in a zoo; wild tigers are far more impressive and intimidating when you are lucky enough to lay your eyes on them! From the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, a tiger can measure 8.5-9 feet! and they can weigh up to 280 kgs. Phew!!!
India boasts of the largest population of wild tigers in the world, estimated at close to 3000 in 2019, showing a significant increase over the last few years. Tigers are found in 19 states in India, in evergreen forests, mangrove swamps, grasslands, tropical, and sub-tropical forests. India was the first country to realize the need for conservation of tigers and Project Tiger was launched in 1973 and is the largest global initiative for conservation. After its initial success, the years have brought on mixed results. For all the love and admiration most people have for these animals, they are still constantly under threat of habitat loss due to the soaring human population and irrational mining and quarrying through prime forest areas. Tigers are also aggressively poached for their body parts which are used in traditional medicines and as adornments.
Being an “apex predator”, the presence of tigers in a forest indicates a healthy and well-balanced ecosystem. The loss or extinction (hate the word) of large predators can cause irreversible changes in many other natural systems. Tigers are on top of the food chain and control the population of herbivores; their absence in the forest will lead to an abundance of these creatures that feed on the valuable vegetation and this, in turn, can affect the process of tree regeneration and seed dispersal. Trees keep a check on so many processes that man cannot possibly control without their help like carbon sequestration, maintain hydrological balance, pollination, prevention of natural disasters and soil erosion, feed the genetic diversity of medicinal plants, and the scope of bioprospecting.
It’s hard to imagine how one animal can have such a huge effect on its surroundings, but the truth is visible in places around the world where tiger populations are dwindling and near extinction. The ever-changing landscapes and loss of microhabitat that are depleting unknown and undiscovered species, is something we will never know. Conservationists and NGOs are doing their best to preserve the most eco-sensitive zones while also ensuring the well-being of the locals that live in these areas and reducing their dependency on the limited natural resources of these areas.
There is a lot of pressure to sustain and grow the population of tigers in India over the last few years because of tourism as well. Tigers and other wildlife are of great importance to the tourism sector. Wildlife parks and reserves receive thousands of tourists every year, raking in money for the economy of the state while sustaining the upkeep of the reserve and its guardians. Most people keep returning to a place in the hope of catching a glimpse of a tiger or getting that perfect shot for their portfolios. Tigers are so much more than just cute, furry animals; saving and preserving them is essential to every aspect of the survival of our planet.
At Kaadoo, we are doing our best to replicate the safari experience through our The Big Game board game series. We have one called “Tiger Trail” which will give you an idea of the wildlife inhabiting the central part of India which is essentially a tiger country. Game reserves like Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh are all part of this ecosystem.