Sunday, August 11, 2019

Tiger Conservation: Urban Assault

Rising urbanization all over the World is seen as gauge in a positive perspective...a gleaming example of development . 

An article on UNDP website terms mega cities as centers of learning, culture and innovation. Besides this it surmises that these population silos are wealth/resource generators and productivity centers, and therefore of immense importance to human settlements connected with them. It also mentions that these silos boost holistic progress, look after the well being of the societies, address poverty, tackle pollution and create infrastructure.  This is UNDPs own view of urbanization which many may not agree.

Urban Ghetto

Chaotic Traffic

The Rat Race

This is a constricted perspective of human development indices because we do not seek more pliable alternatives. The article does mention the poor quality of urban development that creates economic disparities, pollution, furthers poverty, hardship, diseases, and most of them are environmental disasters. 

We all have realized this anomaly prevailing in the major cities bursting at seams due to overpopulation and unchecked migration from suburbs, smaller towns and now deep interiors. 

Yes we all know this  except the developers and those who reap huge benefits in terms of political agenda and the businesses amassing wealth. These are the privileged ones that unfortunately take to the helm and become city planners, developers, ruling politicians, esteemed citizens and active propagandists that never fail to advocate reckless urbanization at any costs.  

The fall out of urbanized ghettos is limited to their surroundings and to some extent to the neighbourhoods. 

Think carefully! 

In order to sustain one infrastructure another extended or connected is required...and then another till the network pathway leads to the deep interiors where our rural societies subsist  on bare minimum with rational utilization of natural resources, and where most of our tiger reserves or natural places are. 

The last leg is the micro urban center greatly susceptible to unplanned and unchecked development or linear development to be precise. It is these micro urban centers that eventually continue to expand haphazardly denuding and eventually swallowing the reserves.   

Over looked and accorded lesser importance our tiger reserves or other ecosystems are most susceptible to this developmental threat. The phenomenon is universal pan India and is rapid. 

In Project Tiger we have an ambitious tiger conservation program which is experiencing the day light at the moment...but the impending space constriction and environment degradation due to rapid development is going to hinder the progress in time to come. 

We are so enamored by modern development as we see in this World that we have forgotten to set limits and checks which are of utmost importance. Though the inviolate core areas are safe at the moment, the stress is on the buffer (surroundings) where stringent policy of protection and no commercial construction should be  well in place. The region surrounding the core faces huge biotic pressure from human intrusion and livestock, and the forests are nowhere secure with wood logging and sporadic poaching. The settlements here are subject to expansion and the agricultural practises old age with low yield. An alternative more environmental friendly alternative for agriculture should be looked for as soon as possibly. One solution is to promote non wood handicraft industry since some communities have proficient artisans. This is being done at many places but needs greater impetus.    

The vision of wildlife and humans subsisting in harmony living in the same space  is at best romantic and purely chimerical. This idea defies practicality in modern times with limited span of ravaged forests and grasslands. Some wild animals are too sensitive to thrive along with humans anyway. And then we know the ways of contemporary human society.   

At many tiger reserves due to peer pressure tigers move in the buffer, and some have become permanent residents. With sparse prey base, weak crown cover and increasing tiger population the problems are further compounded.

Munna Tiger With Kill _ Gopal Desai 

Meanwhile the urban assault continues relentlessly with no possibility of stoppage. This is a challenge that wildlife managers and the field staff will face till some mitigating measures are put in place.

Uday freelances as a naturalist and loves to write on tiger conservation and environmental issues.