The tiger used to once roam 29 countries, from the Russian Taiga to the Balinese Wetlands. Once having over 10 subspecies, Panthera tigris has since suffered a loss of at least 5 subspecies of tiger, says nature.com. In India, tiger poaching was running rampant, until in 1973, the advent of the national conservation project: Project Tiger.
This project has since been a massive success. In 1972, before Project Tiger, the tiger population was under 300, and declining. However, According to downtoearth.org, once Project Tiger started to take hold, the data showed that it was effective. In just 7 years, the tiger population more than doubled, to over 700! This project is still ongoing, and the tiger population as of 2018, was nearly 3000!
I believe that Project Tiger can be a great example to conservationists, as India, a developing country with limited resources was still able to exponentially increase the tiger population. Careful planning, resource management and foresight need to be a part of the solution. Most importantly, you need commitment, because conservation sometimes forces difficult decisions like how to manage human encroachment into the natural habitat of the wild, while allowing people to continue to thrive economically. In the case of Project Tiger, the Indian Government along with wildlife experts had to ensure that Tigers had sufficient territory to roam freely and breed with enough genetic diversity. Therefore the national game parks like Ranthambore, Pench, Bandipur, Sunderbans etc. were created. Sometimes whole villages needed to be relocated in order for the parks to offer enough space for the tigers to roam freely as male tigers are solitary creatures with a range of up to 120kms.
On a related note, for my grandfather's 78th birthday, I sketched him a tiger inspired by a photo I took when we visited Ranthambore National Park year before last.
We were very lucky to see a tiger up close and my sketch was inspired by this sighting.
The angle of my sketch is taken from is from between the antlers of a native deer (Chittal), that roams the same territory as the tigers. Chittal are the main prey of the tigers, so I tried imitate what it would feel like to get preyed upon by one of these black and orange beasts.
My main goal with this sketch was not accuracy or proportions of either the tiger or Chittal, but instead to convey a lot of emotion, and make the viewers feel empathy for the Chittal.
Besides the tiger & chittals, we saw a lot of amazing animals at Ranthambore. From a Tawny Fish Owl, to the Rufous Treepie and of course, the stunning Indian national bird - the Peacock.
Tawny Fish Owl
Ranthambore was a fantastic trip except for biting cold in the open air jeep, as we set off for a morning safari at 6am. Here are some pictures of me and my dad, and my mom and grandad, braving the cold.
Ayan & Akshay
Priyali & Michael