The Economist's Apprentice

In which a little girl confronts the world and battles the anti-humans.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Large Footprint of Tigers

Environmentalists often lament the large footprint humans leave on the world. Individually, humans actually have a rather small footprint, given our ability to survive packed close together. This is a tribute to humans' superior ability to cooperate with one another.

From mother earth's perspective, a tiger must be considered high maintenance. This week's The Economist explains how saving the remaining few thousand Indian tigers may require immense sacrifices.

The present strategy is plainly not working. It called for the relocation of 66,500 families living in 1,500 villages in India's 28 tiger reserves. But since it was adopted, 30 years ago, only 80 villages and 2,900 families have been moved. Those left behind have learned to see conservationists and the tiger as their enemies. Most are tribal peoples and are among India's poorest, lacking any legal status or right to their land.

Some are now arguing that a means should be found for tigers and the human residents to coexist. Coexistence is not to everyone's taste.

Many conservationists are appalled, ... one of them, Valmik Thapar ... says that coexistence is "an impractical dream", because each tiger must eat 50 cow-sized animals a year to survive, and if you put it amid cows and people, the conflict will be "eternal and perennial".

The Economist worries that the tiger will lose from government inactivity. If Mr. Thabar is correct, perhaps it is time to give up on the tiger. The cows will surely thank us. And many of those 66,500 families.


Post a Comment

<< Home