Archive | June 2012

Indian Tigers: Hunters or The Hunted!!!

One of the biggest threats to tigers in India is not the receding forest cover but the ever-increasing gangs of poachers. The latest victim of one of these gangs is a full-grown male tiger of Chandrapur (Maharashtra’s Tiger Reserves). Needless to say the gangs are brutal. This poor tiger was cut into pieces and thrown at the side of the road. Just like serial killer these gangs have their own style of killing the tiger. Where some gang uses iron claws, the other uses electrocution as the means to kill.

Despite of an alert at the reserves the poachers were successful in punching holes in the tight security ring. This brings us to the question – Why did this still happen? Is the claim made by the officials, of a tight and high alert security, is just a cover to save their face?

The fact of the matter is that there is nobody to provide for the answers. Even if an RTI is filed it will only lead to vague answers instead of solid facts. The authorities could always find a loophole. The few people who are really sensitive to the problem and trying to book the culprits are transferred due to politics prevalent in the bureaucratic league. A Tiger’s skin sells for over 10 million INR in international market and its nails, hair, bones sell for over 6 Lakhs. Even a 10% commission paid to the official could easily provide security holes.

Sometimes there are reports of tigers being accidentally killed. There would be hundreds of explanation for these accidents but we fail to understand an accident happening at the hands of the trained officials. Millions of rupees are invested in the Tiger project, yet there are inadequately trained people handling the tiger population and letting them die in accidents. Tigers are not stray dogs who could be helped by common man; they are big majestic beings who could only be handled by well-equipped trained professionals.

It is sad to see the sorry state of affairs of the tigers despite the high proportion of money and publicity being invested for them. However unless the administration does not put a stop to these gangs of poacher the brutality would continue. Tigers are an indispensable part of our ecological system. With their current population dwindling at 1,706 (till March 2011) it is important to follow the popular saying ‘Desperate times call for desperate measures’.


How useful is the Government ban on use of live animals for educational & research purposes?

Last month the ministry of environment and forests made a decision based on prevention of cruelty to animals act 1960 and henceforth banned the use of live animals for dissection in educational institutes and research work. The guidelines have been issued to organizations like university grants commission, ministry of health and family welfare, pharmacy council of India and the medical council of India to discontinue the practice of animal dissection. However the ban is not absolute and exempts scientists conducting new molecular research. The bone of contention here is the exemption part.Image

One of the first questions that we ask ourselves is what is new molecular research? Although a scientist could better explain it yet in a layman language molecular research is the research work done at the molecular level that forms the component of our body cell to improve human-life and devise remedies for deadly diseases. In today’s world technology provides near accurate computer simulations of these molecular models as well as the drug’s molecular component. So the question arises why the exemption for molecular scientists. The ministry has guided the educational institutions to use alternatives in the form of CDs, computer simulations and mannequin models, which is a very good thing, but is the exemption to molecular scientists really needed where on molecular level most of the experiments are performed through computer simulations??

The ban looks good on the outside and is a step towards eradicating animal cruelty in the form of experimentation however on the inside it leaves loopholes which could be exploited blatantly. Sadly this is the case with most of the laws in India. The constructive criticism would be that the though ministry thought about animal welfare and did a good job in banning use of live animals for education and research yet it has miles to go before it sleeps !!!