Nagpur: The generic name of tiger is Panthera Tigris but many tigers of the sanctuaries and reserves are popular by their names given by wildlife buffs. A recent diktat by Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) field director has sought an end to this business of naming.
On October 19, Tadoba conservator of forest & field director NR Pravin issued notice warning tourists, guides, resort and homestay owners and drivers against naming tigers. He asked them also not to disclose locations of tigers after sightings. The forest department uses the T series with a number to identify different tigers.
The guides and gypsy drivers have been warned of suspension for 15 days if they did not remove their posts on social media about Tadoba tigers with names and locations. The resort owners too have been asked to do the same.
The field director’s order comes after the recent death of Meera, the two-year-old cub of Tadoba queen Maya. Pravin said, “Naming tigers is linked to emotions. When these tigers die people make a hue and cry. People name 10-12 tigers regularly sighted in tourism zones but for us every tiger is equally important.”
Wildlife lovers have questioned the move saying how does naming tigers matters? Wildlife photographer from Hyderabad Sanjeev Siva says, “Agreed that lot of us are emotionally attached to a named tiger but a known or named tiger must be a mascot or representative of its entire tribe. The empathy that a known tiger draws in tourists or evokes interest among the non-goers to a forest should be extended to all tigers.”
Siva adds, “Naming doesn’t mean anything for the animal nor will it take any of their wilderness of its nature. It only means that we humans change the way we regard them.”
“This can be an ethical or unethical debate but it cannot invite punishment. Under what provisions of law does naming of tigers become an illegal act. The diktat is a weird idea and will be ineffective,” says wildlife photographer Sarosh Lodhi.
“I don’t see any problem in naming. The opposition from officials is just because when such famous tigers vanish or die there is uproar like it happened in case of Jai from Umred-Karhandla. I agree that specific location of tigers should not be mentioned,” says district honorary wildlife warden Roheet Karoo.
Karoo adds, “The park management can haul up guides and drivers but they have no control over tourists naming tigers. Most of the time instead of staff identifying the tigers it is the tourists who identify the tigers. It has also nothing to do with poaching but it is question of better monitoring.”
“There are two issues involved in naming. One is about the emotional attachment and support tigers get from people. However, this support turns counterproductive when they are not sighted or die. It is not only about Meera, Maya, Tara, Matkasur, Gabbar etc but it is about science and dynamics. Tigers are going to die in fights, replace each other, disperse in parks like Tadoba where there is high density of tigers,” says Bilal Habib, tiger scientist with Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun.
Some Famous Big Cats
* Tadoba: Wagdoh male, Eda Anna, Shivaji, Narsimha, Bajrang, Gabbar, Pandu, Katezari male (Tyson), Namdeo, Matkasur, Circuit, Surya, Sirkada male, Leela, Maya, Madhuri, Sonam, Shivanzari, Devdoh female, Chhoti Tara, Kuoni, Zarni, Junabai, Chameli
* Pench: Baras, Bali, Durga, Prince
* Bor: Katrina, Bajirao, Pinky
* Umred-Karhandla: Bajrang, Jai, Sriniwas, Bittu, Jaichand, Bali, Bhadra, Bijli, Charger, Chandi