The Indian government is looking at replacing one majestic beast for another with its plan of kicking out the tiger and put the lion in its place as the national animal of the country.
The proposal to replace India’s national animal first came from Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand Parimal Nathwani, an industrialist, reports the TOI.
This proposal has now gained such an importance that it is now being considered by the National Board for Wild Life (NBWL), which functions under the environment ministry.
Tiger’s numbering at around 2,200 have presence in 17 states of the country compared to just 411 Asiatic lions, all of which are found only in PM Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
Tiger was adopted as the national animal at a meeting of the Indian Board for Wildlife (now NBWL) in 1972 in view of its “worldwide importance, existence in the entire country and the need for its protection”.
Bittu Sahgal, editor of Sanctuary magazine, suggested that it is “best we stay away from renaming charades and focus on enhancement of protection and habitat expansion for both tigers and lions.”
Speaking to the TOI Prerna Bindra, a former member of NBWL, pointed out that the tiger has a pan-India presence and is easily identified as a part of our culture adding that saving the tiger “means saving the varied ecosystems it lives in, which sustain India”.
Not only is this proposal being condemned by wildlife conservationists and enthusiasts, commentators on social media are also mocking at the stupidity of the idea.
Jokingly, social media commentators threw up a few other contenders which included the ubiquitous rhesus monkey, the ‘holy’ cow and – given the level of importance they are accorded – Azam Khan’s buffalos.
We do not have the slightest idea why the government would take so much interest in having a new national animal; it could be because the ‘Make in India’ campaign has a lion as the mascot or it could be anything else. But what we know as a fact is that not much is being done to conserve our forests and the wildlife. We have had to take great pains in bringing back the tigers from near extinction (and they are still not exactly very safe). The government should focus on saving our animals and forests instead of paying attention to such stupid proposals.