Dozing polar bear, Indianapolis Zoo

Thursday, September 27, 2007

No miracles today, sorry

You know how, every time you hear that an animal is endangered, you sort of assume that someone's taking care of it, and it'll end up like the bald eagles I now see fairly frequently along the Kootenai River?

Not so.

India's tigers will require a miracle to avoid extinction, says Valmik Thapar, a renowned Indian tiger expert. The tigers' numbers have more than halved just in the last five years.

[Thapar] said the tiger's survival was dependent on rapid action, reform and strong protection of the animals and their habitat.

But instead, Thapar said, the government was placing the animals under greater risk with a new law giving people rights over forest resources and advocating the co-existence of tigers and man.

Thapar has written fifteen books on tigers and made about twenty documentaries, many of them showing his seven-year interaction with a tigress he named "Macchli", or fish, due to a fish-like mark on her cheek. He was also the first to document how male tigers behave in the tiger family unit. But now he has concluded that his life is a failure because he has failed to save India's tigers.

He says, of his career:

"The most moving and memorable time was with a tigress and her three tiny cubs. I watched her in the early morning sun for two hours, it brought tears to my eyes. I wept in joy -- the joy of the devotion of a mother to her little ones," he said.

"But if you look at it today, those mothers are being killed and the cubs are dying as the mothers don't return home."
Am I the only one who finds comfort in knowing that such wild creatures exist, even though I never see them? Am I the only one who finds their plight more pressing than the latest Britney Spears cr*tch shot? Given the recent Giant Otter swarm to this blog, I don't think I am.

But can you feel the loneliness that must dog Thapar as he absorbs the life of these creatures, only to watch them be carelessly destroyed? Making documentary after documentary, writing book after book, running around with your hair on fire trying to tell people they are losing part of their world, only to watch these tigers be poached for their skin? Hunted into extinction?

If only his words here were still true:

I guess, ultimately, it doesn't matter as long as we have our comfortable lives in the suburbs, our iPhones and good pizza. And I'm serious about that. Isn't that the lesson of the modern age? I may be little better than the next guy on that score. But is that real? Is it the truth? Or is the same indifference that's killing the tigers of a piece with the emerging reality that we may be indulging ourselves to death?

Sorry for the downer, guys. I'll try to post something a little more uplifting later. But this article just sent me right into the mental crapper.


Lewis said...

I'll tell you, you sure do know how to put the fun in the weekend. And all I did today was go get a prescription for Valium in anticipation of my MRI appointment tomorrow. Yippee!

Trailhead said...

Hey, maybe I should get an MRI.

Seriously, best wishes for tomorrow.