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Tuesday, February 23, 2010


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That’s the number you’ve been told about remaining number of tigers in India. Campaign is ubiquitous: on prime time TV, on print media, on bill boards. Cause is just: after all, conservation of any animal specie is worthy effort, let alone unique, majestic and royal creature as Royal Bengal Tiger of India. So, of course, you are supposed to join the roar.

I do wonder though if such expense of money on campaign is going to serve any useful purpose at all. Your writing blogs, SMSing friends and writing articles in media will help whom? Are poachers, illegal traders or users of goods made from tiger will suddenly change their heart because Mahender Singh Dhoni says so? Will politicians and forest officials will see light at the end of tunnel and gear their actions towards stricter punishment and speedy justice? Will China stop consuming soup of tiger’s private parts for increasing their fertility? If not, what is your roar going to do?

Even their website is not sure if you can help. It says 'you can help', so I went there looking how. It says “roar” and previous paragraphs tells me that impact of that is non-existence and unclear at best. It says “donate” which, naturally, will help promote this very campaign but which is not going to have any effect anyway since this is precisely what we are discussing now. It says “be informed” which is good but again a useless activity. I am well informed about severity of this issue and how is this going to help me or tigers? It says “speak up” which is another word for “roar” in ‘saveourtigers’ lingo. You see where am I going here? Website suggests us to “lead the change”. Now if you are kind of person who will kill tiger for money or wear that necklace of tiger bones, I am not sure if reading this website will change your mind. Supposing if it does, what fraction of market of tiger goods is from these kind of people? And, of course, if you are not this kind of person then you are already part of change, even if unconsciously. Having access to most strata of India society, I don’t see any of intended audience of this campaign consuming tiger anyway. Further advice given in the campaign is to “write, SMS, donate, spread the word” which we have seen is rehash of earlier.

What can be remotely considered useful is advice about being “responsible tourist” and example given is not to throw chips packet in national parks. How much impact will it have in improving 1411 number doesn’t require a genius. Hint: it won’t. It continues to say that we should “preserve natural resources”. Preaching to the choir?

What happened, if I can imagine, is this. World Wildlife Fund knows that this is worthy cause and Aircel joined with big sponsorship and now we have an organization which has lot of money but nothing to do with it. So they blow all in advertisement saying what they do (save the tigers) but that they don’t actually do (they just campaign). I am not good at these sort of things but I’d reckon that throwing all the money to bribe forest officials to catch poachers, lobbying politicians to change regulations, incentivizing local communities near forests to alternate livelihood and exposing China’s consumption to world at large will be better use of money than that expensive billboard shouting “1411”.

Related read: Only other blog raising this question, Humorous take on this (NSFW)
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