India's tigers must be saved in the wild

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All this year we in India have been bombarded with appalling news reports about the poaching of our national animal the tiger (Panthera tigris bengalensis). The Sariska National Park in Rajasthan was found to have not a single tiger left. Poaching gangs are still active in most of our other national parks, including world famous parks under Project Tiger. The gangs use steel traps, firearms and electric wires to kill these precious animals. The situation is now very grim indeed, and shows a complete lack of commitment and concern on the part of all the forest departments who are supposed to manage and monitor the parks. Forest guards are demoralized, and since vacancies have not been filled for the last twenty years, most of them are over the age of 45 years, unarmed, and not in a position to fight the poachers. Political will is sadly lacking, and any measures taken recently to stem the rot have been at best half-hearted, and at worst, non-existent.

A Tiger Task Force was set up some months ago by our Prime Minister who is genuinely concerned about the issue, but their recommendations are not very helpful since they dilute the issue by confusing it with the rights of forest dwellers, and do not address the urgent problem about what to do as regards poaching. If implemented, their suggestions will actually do more harm to the tiger because they will compromise its habitat. A few months ago an investigation revealed the shocking fact that most of the skins of our butchered tigers, leopards, snow leopards etc. (all endangered species in the Red List of CITES) have found their way to Tibet where they are openly sold at astronomical rates to be worn at certain festivals.

This petition seeks to request the Indian Government
to ensure that our protected forest areas (a mere 4\% of the total land mass) be kept inviolate from human habitation or exploitation of resources
to see that forest guards are appointed, preferably from among local people in the case of each park, so that they have a stake in wanting to save the tiger
to ensure that the forest guards are appropriately equipped and trained
to deploy the army and / or ex-servicemen in each park with guns and orders to shoot poachers at sight
to consult the many tiger experts and scientists in the country, most of whom are resented and ignored by forest department officials, since they invariably blow the whistle about any shortcomings of the departments

We CANNOT let the tiger become extinct in the wild in India, certainly not for fictitious medicinal value, nor to satisfy the vanity of a few humans. It must be allowed to burn bright forever in our forests.