1411 was less, you thought. What about 411?

What’s common between Goddess Durga, Emperor Ashoka, Lord Vishnu and the National Emblem of India? We know you know the answer. But what if you were told that in a country of 1.15 billion human beings, there are only 411 such left now?
Asiatic Lion_aS
Yes. We have only 411 Asiatic Lions left in the the whole of our country, that too in small pockets in the Gir forests of Gujarat. (- Data quoted from Gujarat Govt.’s 2010 report).
It’s strange, thinking about the lions and tigers in the middle of all this busy lives of us; somewhere it does not strike a cord.

May be that’s why most of us don’t even know that the much revered Asiatic Cheetah has already gone extinct locally in India. (Yes, the same Cheetah from the ad line ‘Cheeta bhi Peeta hai’ of Mountain Dew). Reports say that about 200-250 years ago, there were tens of thousands of Asiatic Lions, Bengal Tigers, Asiatic Cheetahs and Indian Leopards in the Jungles of India.
Now the Jungles themselves are fast diminishing. It’s analogous to a kingdom shrinking right in front of an emperor’s eyes; and it can do nothing than to perish along with it. Or maybe not.
The recent media campaign which saw people like Dhoni and companies like Aircel talking about the 1411 Bengal Tigers left in India did help the cause. Public awareness is the first axiom for any Government initiative. People were awed by the sheer dismalness of the figure of population. Funds were raised, NGOs came forward, conservation initiatives were strengthened. Reason? The common people knew that the issue is worthy enough to be a national concern.
save-tigers
In January 2008, the Government of India launched a dedicated anti-poaching force composed of experts from Indian police, forest officials and various other environmental agencies. Indian officials successfully started a project to reintroduce the tigers into the Sariska reserve. On similar lines, the forest department of Bangladesh together took the initiative of Sunderbans tiger project. The ‘Save the Tiger Fund’ and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service generously donated funds to support the initial phase of research that aimed to collect data on tiger ecology using telemetry, and study the tiger’s environment by assessing its habitat and prey.
Although small, save the tiger project has been a success. Now we need to bring the Lions in the center, too.
And the big question is, “How can we help?”
By spreading the information and knowledge about them. See an example of a relevant information:
“The biggest threat faced by the Gir National Park is the presence of Maldharis. These communities are vegetarian and do not indulge in poaching because they are basically pasturalists, with an average of 50 cattle  per family. So during grass-scarce seasons Maldharis, even from outside the sanctuary, bring their cattle into the park in the guise of selling them and take them away after the monsoon season. These people are legally entitled to live in the park but slowly the area around the nesses (small hamlets where Maldharis live) is becoming denuded of vegetation. The population of Maldharis, as well as their numbers of cattle, is increasing and some Maldharis have houses outside the forest but still keep their cattle inside the forest to get unlimited access to forage. One of the outcomes of this is that the natural population of the wild ungulates of the protected area, which forms the prey base of the Lions, has suffered. And when a hungry lion attacks these people or their cattle, they kill it/ hurt it fatally in self defense.”
Lion_in Gir
We need to know such facts, and force the government to make sure it stops the malpractices going on. Only awareness can make it a national issue. 411 today, 0 tomorrow, if human greed is allowed to flow its natural way.
George Schaller wrote: (Source: Wiki)
"India has to decide whether it wants to keep the tiger or not. It has to decide if it is worthwhile to keep its National Symbol, its icon, representing wildlife. It has to decide if it wants to keep its natural heritage for future generations, a heritage more important than the cultural one, whether we speak of its temples, the Taj Mahal, or others, because once destroyed it cannot be replaced."
Doesn’t it feel as valid for the Asiatic Lions, too? Cheetah, gone. At least save the lions!

Goddess Durga      Emblem of india      Vishnu_Narsimha      Ashokan Pillar  
Alok K.

16 Comments:

Mohi said...

First of all, I must appreciate your efforts of taking this initiative to write this article here and make it a point to warn the youth of the nation. A very well researched, well written and well presented article. Cheers.

Coming to the issue, it is shocking and sad to know that there are only 411 lions left in India. Plus, I never knew that Asiatic Cheetah has already gone extinct! We need to save them, both the tigers and lion. We should all come forward to create awareness among masses. "because once destroyed it cannot be replaced." Too true.

Anvesh said...

Only 411???

That's shocking!!!

Alok K. said...

@Mohi...Agreed. The damage at stake is irreversible.

@Anvesh... Exactly my point, dude!

Neeraj said...

I like the way you people are utilizing this blog for information dissemination.

Keep up the good work.

Pravy said...

As I read this post,somewhere in the background Viva La Vida -Coldplay played in my mind all along.
Quoting from the song..
"I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own."

It feels like the fall of an emperor who has ruled his kingdom since the world has seen light.

"Man is the only animal that can transform his own nature, along lines consciously laid down."

411 is a terrible count by any measures.
Proper shifting of the Maidharis or any other solution is welcome,which allows the Lion to have his own space.

All in all a very meaningful post.

Shivi said...

I agree completely. Its high time that we spare at-least some time to save our heritage!

Alok K. said...

@ Pranav... yeah, Coldplay's Viva la Vida strikes chords wid the plight, indeed.

@Shivi... hmmm, steps have been taken in very initial stages.
Imagine, last year the lions were only 359 in India! If carefully done, this critical issue of heritage conservation will become a success. Let's hope so.

Sneha said...

Hmmm,@alok... you seem to be a bit acerbic about the government.

Don't you think that it's an achievement for us if we have managed to increase the population of the Lions from the 359 to 411 (as mentioned in the comments above), within an year?

I feel that we should not criticize govt. until we ourselves are ready to do something.

Sneha said...

and moreover, If you say that the maldhais people should be pushed away from the forests, well, where would they go?

The solution is not as it seems, and is easier said than done.

No offense to any one, btw.

Alok K. said...

@ Sneha.
Interesting observation. No, I am not 'acerbic' towards government. I am very clichedly acerbic towards human intervention in the so called conservatories and sanctuaries.

Yes, it indeed is a success if we have managed to bring the figure up from 359 to 411. But dismal is dismal. Compare it to the 1.15 billion human beings, and you will see the bigger picture.

And as for the 'Maldhari ppl' relocation, I never said the solution was easy. The government should think over it, draft out well considered solutions, have arguments over it in the legislative assemblies, and take proper corrective action.

That's what a government is meant for, right?

And thanks for sharing your views, btw. I appreciate your pov.

flawsophy said...

The governments don't do anything beyond their comfort levels and the normal people can't do anything beyond feeling "sad". There are so few of them now.

I went to a zoo last year in the USA, the lion was so emaciated, weak, lonely and demotivated that I could run away alive from it after slapping on it's head. It's a shame because I would love a world a lion should be able to hunt down an unarmed human :).

It's pitiful we are letting go of these majestic creatures and some Spielberg in 2300s would come along and come out with a goddamn science fiction movie !!!

(By the way, a great blog you got here - keep up the good work)

Alok K. said...

@Sashi... Thanks a lot dude. Your blog is as awesome, mannnn!!!

Coming to the topic... Hmmm, yeah it's a shame watching a feeble lion in a cage. When killers become items pitied upon, well... something has gone very wrong somewhere.

And Yeah, the day is not far when the lions would join the league of the sabre-toothed tigers... Or maybe not!

Anonymous said...

A well researched post indeed. I remember a post on Reuters.com which talked about the rights gained by the Maldhari tribe over the Gir forest.

The point is, the local politicians have taken this issue in a people- flattering way. Making sure that they win more and more rights for the vote bank.

Politics. Alas there is no lion who can represent the asiatic lion community.
Democracy can be very cold and cruel sometimes. It's a pity!

Alok K. said...

@Anonymous...
That's sad to know. Vote bank politics is a two sided weapon, because of the immense local support.

But the mute lions are the ones who're facing the music...

aurora said...

Did you know? There are only 411 of my kind left in India. I am the National Emblem and a Royal Citizen of India but a dying breed...Spread the awareness, for without it, there can be no conservation.http://www.facebook.com/pages/Roar-for-the-Asiatic-Lion/148251028527367?ref=sgm

priyanka said...

the asiatic lion has been removed from the endangered species list...how about that - article http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/GUJ-AHD-asiatic-lion-is-no-more-endangered-2407295.html