No-one knows how many tigers there are left in India, and poaching is rampant. The last official census in 2006-07 produced 1,165 at the low end and 1,657 at the top, and has been averaged out as 1,400, but the total is probably lower now.
Painted in a huge variety of styles and colours by well-known artists who include Anjolie Ela Menon, Paresh Maity, and Farhad Husain, the tigers have been acquired by 58 companies and other organisations for donations of Rs150,000 ($3,300). About half the Rs8.7m (nearly $200,000) raised will go to the trust, after payments to the artists and other costs.
Saving wildlife from a seemingly relentless path to extinction has suddenly become fashionable and socially acceptable. A week or so ago, the Indian tv station NDTV broadcast a 12-hour Telethon with film star Amitabh Bachchan as the Save the Tiger brand ambassador and others. This raised Rs48.6m (just over $1m) to finance rapid response teams for tiger emergencies.
London’s elegant Elephant Parade raised £4m ($6.2m) after the sculptures were auctioned, and the bulk of the proceeds went to various Asian Elephant conservation organisations.
Belinda Wright, founder director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), which received funds from the London elephant auction, is glad that conservation is becoming socially acceptable and even fashionable “providing the fireworks are reflected in positive action on the ground”.
“Through all the glitz, hopefully messages of substance are making people stop and think about important environmental issues, including the terrible consequences of loosing iconic species such as the tiger and elephant”.
That’s a good message for the New Year –