Hope For India’s Bengal Tigers As US And Tourist Organizations Get Involved

As with several other big cats and large mammals in the world, Bengal tigers are under threat of extinction. Various efforts are now being made to both combat poaching and to protect India’s Bengal tigers in their natural habitats.

As reported by NDTV, the United States has recently offered to help India in its efforts to track and protect the endangered Bengal tigers. A memorandum of understanding has been drawn up between the two countries to support India’s Project Tiger, an initiative set up to protect the population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitat.

Both countries will work together, using the latest technology in an effort to both combat poaching of the big cats and also for their protection in the wild. According to the U.S. State Department, the new initiative will protect critical habitat in India and will aid human resources development and conservation programs in order to build public awareness in the country.

Bengal tigers
Bengal tiger relaxing

Through the initiative, it is hoped to increase populations of threatened and endangered species, such as the Bengal tigers, by strengthening law enforcement capacity and combating the illegal poaching and associated trade of wildlife species.

Another strong contender in the protection of the endangered Bengal tigers is a tourism group called Travel Operators for Tigers (TOFTigers), which was founded some 10 years ago by a group of safari operators. Still active today, the group invites travel professionals to get involved in the fight to ensure that India’s majestic Bengal tigers continue to flourish.

Since the annual World Tiger Day was held on July 29, good news has been delivered by tiger spotters in India, saying that the native Bengal tiger population has risen by some 30 percent in recent years. However, it was noted that tiger populations elsewhere in the world are still under threat, and there is much to be done to improve the situation to ensure the iconic big cats do not vanish for good.

According to a blog by Greaves India, TOFTigers recently hosted an event at the Royal Geographical Society in London, where several top figures in the ecological field gave lectures, including Jeffrey Parrish of the World Wildlife Fund in the U.S. and Colin Bell, founder of an African safari operator.

Among the topics discussed at the event was how the global nature travel community can reinvest ecotourism profits into ecological missions to protect Bengal tiger tourism in India.

Protection of Bengal tigers
Bengal tiger

Discussing the latest increase in the number of Bengal tigers, the audience was told that this isn’t all good news, as reportedly the Indian government has recently cut funding to the protection of national parks, even though it is evident that protecting those parks makes them a viable tourism draw.

Since its inception in 2005, TOFTigers has trained more than 700 national park personnel and has published a Good Wildlife Travel Guide. The group is also working within the country and operates across 21 protected areas of India.

However, while there are protected national parks, reportedly around 35 to 40 percent of India’s Bengal tigers live outside these protected areas. According to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the movement of the tigers is restricted, as many wildlife corridors are currently in a bad condition.

According to State government officials in India, CCTV cameras, called “eye[s] in the sky,” have been set up around fringe areas to monitor the movement of the Bengal tiger population, and the Wildlife Conservation Society is pushing for the revival of green corridors to make the movement of the tigers easier from the high-density habitats to those less dense.

As with all conservation efforts, the work towards the protection of the Bengal tigers and the cessation of poaching activities is vital.

[Images: Featured photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Christina Saint Marche — Other Bengal tiger images CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Tiny Pretorius]