The tiger and the frog

A cautionary tale on our lopsided priorities in wildlife conservation


Neha Sethi | December 23, 2010

Wildlife conservation in India has become synonymous with tiger conservation. The majestic animal, which is also India’s national animal and a magnet for tourists, hogs the limelight in the media and also catches the fancy of people at large. But there are many lesser-known birds and animals which have been identified as being ‘critically endangered’ in a list prepared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The long necked and not-so-pretty looking vulture doesn’t really fit into the image of a bird which needs our help to survive in the wild. But this scavenger has been facing a major threat from use of veterinary painkillers which gets into their system on consumption of carcasses. The nocturnal owl, whose claim to fame has been the latest Harry Potter series, also needs some serious attention to make sure that their kind do not go the ‘Dodo’ way.

And who would believe that the croaking frog also needs assistance to survive the timber extraction activities being carried out in forested areas? The ghariyals, the turtles, the pygmy hogs, pink-headed ducks and around 20 other animals and birds have been identified as ‘critically endangered’, which means that their natural population has decreased by almost 80 percent within just three generations.

So while we talk of saving the tiger and may be the elephant, let us not forget that even these not-so-majestic but equally important animals in the natural ecosystem need our help and attention to carry forward their generations.

Imagine a world where the poem ‘The frog and the nightingale’ would be reduced to ‘Just the nightingale’ since we could not pay much attention to saving the frog. Or reading a Harry Potter book to your grandchildren and telling them that the owl was a nocturnal bird that that existed in our olden days.



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