Friday, December 31, 1999

1999 newspaper articles on Anthony Marr's tiger work

1999-02 Travel Talk magazine, India TT Bureau

[Save the Tiger campaign]

"… ‘A conscious effort has to be made to make the villagers aware of the hazards of deforestation, overgrazing and poaching, and their consequences on the whole ecological balance,’ said Marr.

"His Save-the-Tiger campaign has introduced new eco-friendly techniques for resource conservation, like solar cooking devices and biogas to wean the villagers from their dependence on wood-fuel…

"Marr also feels that the entry fee to the Indian wildlife sanctuaries should be raised manifold to benefit the locals of the area and also to maintain the reserves…"

1999-02-12-5 The Hindu, national, India

[Need to protect tigers stressed]

"… Mr. Marr, who is of Chinese extraction, is apologetic about the role of his country of origin in making the tiger a haunted animal… The Chinese make medicines out of tiger parts and, in the process, import as many as 300 dead tigers from India and Russia a year…

"Owning up to his birth country is the penitent Mr. Marr when he says that he is paying the penalty for his countrymen by campaigning (against the Chinese tradition)…

"… In the Pink City (Jaipur), Mr. Marr lectured to 2500 school children in three schools. In Delhi, he had a captive audience of children in 10 schools. He is convinced that children are India’s hope for its national animals the tiger…"

1999-02-14-7 The Asian Age, India

[Tiger walk today to save wild cats]

"… According to official estimates… tiger numbers have dwindled from 3,750 in 1993 to 3,000 in 1997. After the initial success of Project Tiger, the 90s have seen a drastic fall in tiger numbers. The tiger population in reserves around the country stands at 1,333 in 1995…"

1999-02-15-1 The Statesman, India

[A valentine for the big cat]

"An unusual ‘Valentine Day’ message was displayed by tiger enthusiasts in the Capital who went on a brisk march from Delhi Zoo to the head quarters of Project Tiger at Bikaner House, to spread the message of conservation.

"Children and adults held up banners for the ‘Love Tiger Walk’… (Organizers) pointed out that the largest cat n the world today has a mortality rate of two per day in the world and one per day in India alone.

"‘Especially as a tigress does not have another litter till her young can support themselves, ‘it is so much necessary to support the ones which are alive, as they do not breed rapidly like other species,’ said a child who participated in the march.

"A video show, an inflatable tiger blimp and presentations by eminent conservationists were some of the features of the march, which was supported (in part) by the WCWC."

1999-02-15-1 The Indian Express, India

[Tiger, tiger burning bright]

"A tiger balloon at the Love the Tiger Walk at the Delhi Zoo on Sunday…"

1999-02-15-1 The Hindu, national, India

[Valentines tiger lovers]

"… A team comprising Mr. Anthony Marr, campaign director of WCWC… has been making slide presentations, holding video shows and having interactions inside a 50-feet inflatable tiger balloon…

"They have been received with great enthusiasm by more than 5,000 students of various age groups. Painting competitions and slogan contests have also been organized as part of the campaign…"

1999-02-15-1 The Pioneer, national, India

[‘Save Tiger’ walk]

"Wildlife lovers walked through the busy streets of the national Capital on Valentine’s Day on Sunday to show their love for the tiger, which faces the threat of extinction…"

1999-02-15-1 The Hindustan Times, national, India

[Save the tiger]

"A 50-foor balloon tiger at the National Zoological Park to generate awareness among the masses for the conservation of the tiger…"

1999-02-16-2 Delhi Times, The Times of India, national

[He is no ordinary tiger]

"They sit inside it and discuss its decimation from the face of the planet. It’s 50-foot long and 12-foot high and is made of parachute material that can inflate. Striped bright yellow and black, this tiger was (brought to India) by WCWC for a Save-the-Tiger campaign to generate awareness on tiger conservation amongst school children…"

1999-03-18-4 The Hitavada ("The oldest and largest circulated English daily in Central India")

[Save tigers from extinction: Marr - Great mission: Anthony Marr educating children about protecting the majestic and beautiful tiger]

"… Mr. Marr who is tirelessly working in India… said that the tiger is the greatest national treasure of India, but even more so, it is a global treasure that is revered the world over. ‘Though it belongs to no individual, its loss would impoverish us all.’…

"… Mr. Marr said that the Royal Bengal tiger might look the most secure of all remain subspecies, but in truth, it is no more secure that the last carriage of a crashing train…

"Currently, Mr. Marr, along with (Canadian volunteer Anne Wittman) and… (Indian conservationist) Faiyaz Khudsar are battling to educate the people living around the Kanha (Tiger Reserve)…"

1999-05-10-1 The Vancouver Sun by Alex Strachan

[Rupert’s Land, Discovery shows win early Leos]

"… In television awards, Andrew Gardner won best writing in an informational series for a segment of Champions of the Wild featuring conservationist Anthony Marr and his efforts to draw attention to the plight of India’s Bengal tiger. Champion’s cinematographer Rudolf Kovanic was also cited for a segment about elephants…"

1999-6 TigerLink, India, global

[Love the Tiger Walk, Delhi]

"…The participants chanted slogans and sang a tiger conservation song lead by Mr. Anthony Marr, Tiger Campaign Director, WCWC…

"At Bikaner House the gathering was addressed by Mr. P.K. Sen, Director of Project Tiger, Mr. S.C. Sharma, Addl. Inspector General Forests (Wildlife), Angarika Guha, Class III student from Sri Ram Public School, Mr. Anthony Marr and Mr. Pradeep Sankhala, Chairman of Tiger Trust…"

1999-06-02-3 The Daily New, Nanaimo, BC by Valerie Wilson

[Students learn plight of the tiger]

"… Anthony Marr… warns tigers are disappearing at al alarming rate. He is in Nanaimo this week to ask area school children to save the tiger from extinction.

"‘Your voice is important and you must speak out,’ Marr told students of Uplands Park Elementary Tuesday. ‘You are very powerful if you want to make some changes in the world.’

"Marr has been back in BC for about a month, after a 10 week working stint at tiger reserves in India. He brought home with him a breath-taking slideshow of the country’s landscape, tree and plant life, birds and animal life, and of course, photographs of the tiger he viewed at India’s Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Ranthambhore tiger reserves.

"‘A question I am asked often by adults is there are no tigers in Canada, so why should we be bothered.,’ Marr told student.

"‘Very simply. The tiger is one of most beautiful animals in the world. If it becomes extinct, our world would be much less beautiful place. We all lose.’.."

1999-06-07-1 Nanaimo News Bulletin by Erin Fletcher

[A tale of 4,000 tigers]

"Children hold the key to the survival of the endangered tiger, says tiger conservationist Anthony Marr…

"To spread the word about the plight of tigers, Marr was visiting Nanaimo schools last week with a slideshow presentation, video, and a discussion in the hopes to stimulate an interest in tiger preservation among local youth.

"Marr has been involved with tiger conservation since 1994. His passion takes him into the depths of India where he works to educate and promote the preservation of tigers…"

1999-06-10-4 Nanaimo News Bulletin by John Kimatas

[Chamber picks city’s top citizens]

"… Having won a scholarship this year, (Madeline) Hargrave says she’ll probably study at Malaspina University-College for a year. But after hearing Anthony Marr speak at a Global Watch function about the plight of tigers in India, she’s considering traveling to India to help him save the tiger.

"Otherwise, she is unencumbered by limitations. ‘I want to do everything,’ she says."

1999-08-02-1 Associated Press, New York City by Katherine Roth

[Despite tougher laws, tiger bone still widely available in Chinatown]

"… As of Monday, the products were still prominently displayed on the shelves of some pharmacies and grocery stores (in New York City's Chinatown)…

"‘It’s very popular and is good for people with bad backs,’ a smiling clerk at Kam Man Food Products on Canal Street told shoppers on Monday. ‘I don’t take it, because I don’t have a bad back, but a lot of people do,’ said the man, who declined to give his name or comment further…

"Anthony Marr… said that of the 37 traditional Chinese pharmacies visited in Chinatown recently, nine were openly selling products listing tiger bone as an ingredient. He is calling for stiffer penalties for sellers and importers who break the law…

"But the US Fish and Wildlife Service… says it doesn’t have enough resources to stop the brisk trade…

"‘We have 93 inspectors and 230 special agents for the entire country. They’re stretched pretty thin,’ said Patricia Fischer, a spokeswoman for the agency. ‘The sheer volume of wildlife products coming into this country present a monumental task…’

More than 50,000 over-the-counter tradition Chinese medicines containing, or purporting to contain, tiger bone and parts from other critically endangered species are sold in the United States each year to people of all ages and ethnic groups…"

1999-08-03-2 Daily News, New York City by Laura Seigel

[Tiger bone Rx selling in the city despite ban]

"At a cramped grocery in Chinatown yesterday, a casually dressed man plunked down $3.95 and was handed an alleged arthritis cure - tiger bone bills.

"Anthony Marr, the Chinese-Canadian tiger campaign director of WCWC in Vancouver, said the purchase proved a grim fact that he had traveled to New York to demonstrate:

"The law against selling medicine made from the bones of tigers, an endangered species, is not being enforced.

"‘I’m here in New York to persuade the government to enforce the law,’ said Marr. ‘Tigers will be extinct within 10 years unless things change.’

"A spokeswoman for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for monitoring the sale of tiger bone medicine, conceded the agency could do a better job. ‘But we don’t have the staff,’ Patricia Fisher said. ‘We only have 230 special agents for the entire country.’

"She said the agency has tried to control the sale of tiger bone by teaching Asian communities about endangered species, rather than by enforcing the law without explaining it. ‘This is a tradition in Oriental medicine that goes back centuries,’ Fisher said…"

1999-08-03-2 World Journal (Chinese), global

[The ‘Long March’ of a Chinese-Canadian conservationist]

"… Marr arrived in New York City last Friday. On Saturday, he conducted a reconnaissance of Manhattan’s Chinatown district with some local help. In one sizzling afternoon he investigated 37 medicinal stores, and found at least nine that still openly displayed tiger bone medicines for sale…

"Yesterday, after a brief media conference in which Marr gave a slideshow on tiger conservation, he led the media present to three of the nine stores to perform demonstration live-purchases…’

"Shop keepers interviewed seemed aware of the illicit nature of the product, but said since most tigers in China have been killed off, the tiger bone medicines they sell probably contain no real tiger ingredient…

"The new Rhino and Tiger Product Labeling Act of 1998, however, ban any product claiming to contain tiger or rhino parts, whether or not they actually do…"

1998-08-12-4 Reuters News Agency by Manuela Badawy

[Import of tiger bones a problem in U.S.]

"…’At today’s rate of poaching tigers will be extinct in a decade. Tigers don’t have the time to wait for the Chinese community to change its habit,’ said Marr, who is of Chinese descent and has taken heat from other Asian for his campaign.

"On a recent day, he led journalists to New York’s Chinatown, which has one of the largest concentrations of people with Chinese background in the United State, to buy supposedly banned tiger elixirs.

"At the Golden Spring pharmacy on the Bowery in Lower Manhattan, Marr walked right in and bought a vial of Tiem Ma tiger bone pills for $3.95. Tiem Ma pills, made by Guiyang Chinese medicine factory in China, listed 6.8 percent ground tiger bone as one of its ingredients and claimed to treat rheumatic neuralgia, lassitude of tendon and back pain.

"When journalists and photographers went into the store after Marr purchased the pills, clerks became visibly anxious, removing the pills from the counter and shoved them into a box. They refused to answer journalists’ questions…"

1999-08-21-6 The Toronto Star by Manuela Badawy, Reuters

[A helluva town for tigers]

"… Under the 1998 Rhino and Tiger Products Labeling Act …people caught with these products face a fine of $5,000. Business owners pay $10,000 and/or get six months in jail.

"In comparison, fines for seal penises are $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 and/or one year in jail for business owners.

"Marr says the fines for tiger violations should at least equal that for seal violations, if only because the tiger is critically endangered…"

Monday, August 16, 1999

New York Chinatown Undercover


Imports Of Tiger Bones A Problem In U.S.

by Manuela Badawy

NEW YORK - Anthony Marr is on a crusade to save the tiger from extinction.

But his battleground is not south China or India or Sumatra, the tiger's traditional homes. It is here in the United States, where the lack of a strategy to stop the importation of elixirs made from tiger parts is an obstacle to saving the animal from disappearing in the wild.

"New York City is the only major city in North America that tiger bones are openly sold in spite of the existing law," said Marr, 55, the leader of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee that helped force the Canadian government in 1997 to strengthen laws to stop people from importing and selling tiger products.

Tiger parts have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than1,000 years to treat everything from skin disease and convulsions to laziness. As China's population has exploded and its people have become more affluent, demand has risen while the supply -- wild tigers -- has collapsed.

Tigers, which once roamed freely throughout Asia, now number about7,000, down from 150,000 a half century ago. Their range has shrunk to only a few national parks, mostly in India, which has been fighting a losing battle against the poaching that supplies much of the demand for tiger parts.

About two tigers die each day, at least one in India due to direct killing, pest control or habitat loss.


"The tiger is a protected animal in India but it is highly pursued in the black market in southeast Asia and China because it is said to be medicinal," said Pranay Waghray, director of the Nallamalai Foundation for tiger preservation. The Nallamalai reservation has India's largest tiger population.

The problem is not limited just to Asia. The diaspora of the Chinese people means that many cities around the world have a Chinatown, and many of those Chinatowns have traditional Chinese medicine shops. Marr said many of those shops, even ones in the United States where it is illegal to import products made from endangered species, sell medicines made from tiger bones.

"At today's rate of poaching tigers will be extinct in a decade. Tigers don't have the time to wait for the Chinese community to change its habit," said Marr, who is of Chinese descent and has taken heat from other Asians for his campaign. On a recent day, he led journalists to New York's Chinatown, which has one of the largest concentrations of people with Chinese background in the United States, to buy supposedly banned tiger elixirs.

At the Golden Spring pharmacy on the Bowery in lower Manhattan, Marr walked right in and bought a vial of Tiem Ma tiger bone pills for $3.95.Tiem Ma pills, made by Guiyang Chinese medicine factory in China, listed6.8 percent ground tiger bones as one of its ingredients and claimed to treat rheumatic neuralgia, lassitude of tendons and back pain.

When journalists and photographers went into the store after Marr purchased the pills, clerks became visibly anxious, removed the pills from the counter and shoved them into a box. They refused to answer journalists' questions.


Marr said he expected U.S. legislators to strengthen the penalties and provide funding to enforce current laws to stop the traffic. Under the 1998 Rhino and Tiger Product Labeling Act, which bars importation or sale of products containing tiger parts, people caught with these products face a fine of $5,000. Business owners pay $10,000 and/or get six months in jail.

In comparison, fines for seal penises, also used in traditional Chinese medicine, are $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 and/or one year in jail for business owners.

Marr said fines for possessing tiger products are also minuscule compared to the huge worldwide wildlife trade, estimated at $6 billion annually. It is the second largest U.S. black market trade after illicit drugs.

The Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service is in charge of enforcing the law and monitoring importation of wildlife products.

While acknowledging that illegal tiger products are being sold in the United States, it argued that there are not enough law enforcement officers or funds to police the amount of illegal imports, estimates for which are hard to come by since the trade is underground.

The U.S. market is the largest for wildlife products in the world but the country has only 93 wildlife inspectors to cover 30 ports of entry. Another 230 special agents devoted to other environment-related trade provide part-time help.

"It's up to Congress to provide funds," Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Patricia Fisher said. "The agency is very small and it's not up to the agency to get the money.

"To help reduce the use of tiger products in the United States, the wildlife agency has been working with Asian communities in Los Angeles to develop educational programs. Waghray said the best way to protect the tiger is to combat poverty in areas such as Nallamalai.

But Marr said putting an end to illegal trade in wildlife must begin in each country's backyard. "All that is needed are two or three people to clean up the neighbourhood if they concentrate on doing it," he said.

Story by Manuela Badawy



Indian Tiger Bones Earn Small Fortunes In Chinatowns

A P Kamath in New York

When Anthony Marr paid $ 4 and received an alleged arthritis cure in Chinatown early this week, he was not surprised.

Indeed, he would have been surprised if he could not find the tiger bone cure. For he had known for a long time that tiger bone remedies are widely sold in many Chinatowns in North America. Though officially the sale is banned, and the offenders could be fined $ 10,000, Marr had the gut feeling that hardly anyone was worried.

Anthony Marr is not just a lover of tigers. For several years he has served as one of the leaders of the Vancouver-based Western Canada Wilderness Committee, one of the most influential environmental and wildlife organizations in the world. Last year, he spent several weeks in India to study the efforts being made to increase the population of endangered tiger species. But he returned to Vancouver disillusioned at the killing of tigers.

Within a hour of his Chinatown tour, Marr said he found at least ten groceries selling tiger bones. Marr suspects most of the bones come from tigers killed by poachers in India.

"Tigers will be extinct in about 10 years if things won't change," he has been warning. His New York visit was to gain publicity for his cause -- and demand the government enforces the ban more efficiently.

But officials at the Fish and Wildlife Services, which is entrusted with the ban, concede they are too short-staffed. And to get the Chinese change their mindset about the alleged efficacy of tiger products is far from easy.

But Marr vows to continue his fight. He is thinking of starting a letter campaign to the federal agency in Washington.

The WCWC, which was started in 1980 by individuals who loved nature and animals, is asking for volunteers from ethnic groups across British Columbia and other Western provinces. The organization is currently setting up a "grassroots distribution team" where volunteers will take its educational newspapers to meeting places in their communities. It has produced 118 editions of free newspapers, published 11 books and several video films.

Its Tiger Show has been presented to more than 30,000 students in British Columbia and Calgary during last 12 months.

Marr can be reached at

* * *


From: Wetlands Preserve

Wetlands Sept 1999 Mailing

Wetlands and Western Canada Wilderness Committee Expose Illegal Chinatown Trade in Tiger, Jaguar, Seal, Endangered Species Parts

"At today's rate of poaching to supply the traditional Chinese medicinal market with body-parts of tiger, rhino and bear, among others, the tiger will be extinct within a decade, and the rhino and bear species thereafter." -- Anthony Marr

In response to a report in the tiger conservation publication TIGERLINK that a survey of 47 Chinese pharmacies in New York's Chinatown, 63% (30 shops) still offer tiger parts or products containing, or claiming to contain, tiger parts, Anthony Marr, Biodiversity Campaign Director of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC), conducted a reconnaissance of Chinatown in conjunction with Wetlands and Animal Defense League activists during the first weekend in August.

What they found shocked them. Not only were pills claiming to be ground tiger bones openly on display, but leopard bone, seal penis, and pangolin (an African endangered animal species), were also available! Upon making these discoveries Wetlands issued a press release announcing a press conference to be held the following Monday morning to present the findings.

After the media conference, which was held in Wetlands downstairs lounge, Marr led journalists into Chinatown for a sting operation. While photographers and videographers positioned themselves out of site, Marr went to purchase endangered species products. However, as he was about to make the purchase, the store clerk saw the journalists and began clearing all endangered species parts from the shelves. But it was too late: the journalists had the proof they needed. What resulted was huge media splash, as the first wave of journalists, including the Associated Press, Daily News, Reuters, World Journal (the New York area's largest Chinese-language paper), ran their stories, resulting in a second wave of courage from journalists who saw the initial coverage, including a French-based world news agency, Fox News Channel, Radio Free Asia, and others.

In 1996/97, Marr conducted a similar investigation into the Chinatowns of Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, which made national news resulting in quick government response and a near-total elimination of these medicines from Chinatowns country-wide. As a person of

Chinese descent, Anthony is able to investigate the sale of endangered species parts in Chinese herb shops and traditional pharmacies without raising suspicion. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that consuming the parts of an animal responsible for its strengths will pass that strength on to the consumer.

Wetlands and WCWC are currently pursuing this campaign to the next stage, working with the NY State Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division to prosecute business selling endangered species parts.

Friday, May 14, 1999

A Passionate Journey to Save India's Tigers

Deep Rural India Expeditions
A Passionate Journey to Save India's Tigers

Vancouver Sun

By Anthony Marr

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, May 14, 1999 (ENS) - The tigress was sleeping on her side in the undergrowth deep within Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, the self-appointed "tiger state" of India. She was scarcely visible in the dense foliage with her camouflage of brown and white patches and shadowy black stripes. Within tail-flicking distance behind her was a half-eaten carcass of a wild boar. The tigress was not going anywhere, short of angrily bolting in fear of being stepped on by the elephant on which I was ensconced, which was indeed getting a little too close.

She tolerated our intrusion for awhile, but when the elephant ripped a
branch off the tree in whose shade she was resting, she finally had
enough, rolled on all fours, gave us a chilling glare and emitted a
hissing snarl that could not be ignored. I snapped the last of a string of
photos and instructed the mahout (elephant driver) to beat a prudent

It was January this year, during my third expedition to India's Kanha and Bandhavgarh tiger reserves as Western Canada Wilderness Committee's (WCWC) tiger conservation program director. The program, with WCWC working in partnership with the Indian conservation group Tiger Trust (TT), is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency at $100,000 per year over
three years. WCWC also generates further tiger conservation funds from its own 25,000-strong membership, hundreds of donors, educational outreach slideshows and its annual Save-the-Tiger Walk.

Of the original 100,000 to 150,000 tigers worldwide, only 4,000 to 5,000 remain with only three of the original eight subspecies surviving. The Bali tiger was extinct as of the 1940s, the Caspian tiger died out in the 1970s and the Javan tiger in the 1980s. Of the remaining subspecies, the Indian Royal Bengal tiger has the best chance of survival because there are still about 2,500 remaining compared with 1,000 Indo-Chinese tigers, 300 Siberian tigers, 300 Sumatran tigers and 20 South China tigers.

Wild tigers are dying at the rate of about two each day worldwide due to the dual cause of direct killing and habitat loss. By the same token,
about one a day dies in India. At these rates, no wild tiger will be left anywhere in the world within a decade, and the Indian tiger's security is but that of the last carriage of a crashing train - unless tiger conservation projects everywhere succeed big time, and very quickly. This is what I'm betting on, starting with our Save-the-Tiger Campaign.

In 1973 when Project Tiger was launched, with founder Kailash Sankhala as the first director, tiger trophy-hunting was banned and about 25 tiger reserves were created. Meanwhile, however, consumer countries like Japan, Korea and China continue to demand for more tiger bone and penis to supply their traditional medicine markets, and India's human and cattle populations continue to sky-rocket - 980 million and 300 million today respectively.

These are the dual causes of tiger decline - habitat loss and direct
killing. Direct killing refers to poaching for medicinal bone and penis,
but also poisoning by villagers in retaliation for the occasional loss of
cattle as tiger prey. Habitat loss encompasses deforestation and
overgrazing. Currently, the biological contents of a miniscule three
percent of India's land mass are given any degree of protection, but even these "protected" areas are being eroded by government-condoned mining and logging, and by local villagers in desperate need of firewood for cooking and heating. Especially hard to solve is the overpopulation problem of India's cattle, caused by their being milk-producers, beasts of burden, and, most importantly, sacred cows.

For each of these problems there are long-term and short-term solutions. The long-term solution is to re-kindle citizen pride in the tiger as a national symbol throughout India and especially to motivate the villagers who live around tiger reserves to become tiger conservationists themselves.

This is easier said than done. While I was there, India was consumed by cricket fever. If Indian tiger conservation could captured but one percent of this enthusiasm, I could retire.

During my two-week stay in urban India, I gave our tiger conservation
slideshow, seen by more than 30,000 students in British Columbia, to 3,000 students of ten Delhi and Jaipur schools. The show did generate the same degree of enthusiasm, resulting in ten "tiger clubs," which I aim to link with environmental clubs in schools in Canada.

What does it take to turn villagers into tiger conservationists? Consider first the villagers. During my eight-week stay in rural India, our WCWC/TT team, made up of TT field worker Faiyaz Khudsar, Vancouver volunteer Anne Wittman and myself, held six hour meetings with the leaders of about 120 villages of the 178 in Kanha's Buffer Zone. The meetings included discussion, a slideshow and a two hour safari in the park - a place most of them have never seen.

A sub-species of the Swamp deer - the Barasingha (Cervus durauceli
branderi) in Kanha National Park.

Their most common concerns are crop plundering by park ungulates
especially the cheetal deer and the wild boar, loss of cattle to tiger,
insufficient compensation for both, the lack of irrigation, and, last but
not least, the lack of financial benefit from the park.

Underneath these external factors is the general undertone of abject
poverty that limits the villagers' mindset to the here and now at the
expense of tomorrow into which the path of conservation extends. The key to overcoming these difficulties is actually quite simple: to let long term conservation benefit them today.

One of the key components of this is to introduce alternative
technologies, such as biogas plants and solar cookers, to replace wood as fuel. Bearing in mind that village women currently spend their daylight hours gathering fuelwood from far afield, then walking kilometers back to their villages or to townships to sell their 50 pound headloads for 15 rupees (55 cents) each, they would welcome alternatives that could allow them to stay at home and work on financially more rewarding and more eco-friendly cottage industries.

Our team trekked long distances through thick jungle in Kanha's Buffer Zone to access remote villages with our demo solar oven on one of our backs. The demo cooker was designed and made in Canada, but units are modified in India so they can be constructed out of local materials. With nine months of solid sunshine a year, India is well suited to this technology. In a multi-village conference at Bandhavgarh where I was one of the speakers, we signed up 23 villages who wished to try out our solar cooker, and further, five villagers signed up to learn to make the cooker on a commercial basis.

To combat the cattle overpopulation and overgrazing problem, we bought a special hybrid Haryanna bull that local people had been hankering for - one whose offspring yield ten times the amount of milk as the usual breeds. We provided it on a trial basis to a village named Chichrunpur on the periphery of Kanha tiger reserve - one of the 22 villages translocated from the Core Area into the Buffer Zone during the creation of the park. The villagers agreed to stall-feed the new bull and his offspring with fodder that can be grown on part of the land or obtained commercially, while gradually retiring the existing low quality stock and neutering all their existing random-bred bulls. After a generation two, the bull will be rotated to another village and another installed in his place. Stall-feeding is important because it frees the land from free-range overgrazing, protects the higher-quality animals from tiger predation, and makes cattle dung readily available for biogas (methane) generation - another alternative fuel technology.

Tiger cub in Kanha National Park.

Regarding the tiger reserves, the general sentiment of the villagers is
that they are little more than rich peoples' playgrounds that provide
little financial benefit to them save a few jobs in the park service, and
worse, produce deer and wild boar that plunder half their crops without adequate compensation from the park authorities. In view of this, we recommended reforming the park system so that the reserves can at least compensate for themselves. Consider this: the world renowned Kruger National Park of South Africa charges $25 US per visit, Uganda charges US$180 for one hour of Mountain gorilla viewing. Neighbouring Nepal's Chitwan National Park grosses US$800,000 a year. Half goes to improve park services, including anti-poaching, and half goes to a benefit fund managed by the villages themselves, which helps to preserve the park as their benefactor.

In contrast, the Indian tiger reserves charge foreign tourists only
US$2.50 for a full day park visit. Indian visitors, mostly wealthy people from other states, pay just 25 cents. We advocate using Chitwan as a model by raising the park fee by a factor of ten for both foreign and out-of-state Indian tourists, while offering local villagers free park access on a limited basis. Half the increased revenue could go to park services which could generate more employment, and half could go to the villages to compensate for crop plundering and finance cottage industry enterprises such as manfacturing solar cookers. This gives the villagers a real control over their own destiny.

The park officials, villagers and tourists we have spoken with at both
Kanha and Bandhavgarh by and large wholeheartedly embraced the proposal. We further pointed out that tigers are in fact their benefactors, since they keep the wild ungulate populations down by several thousand a year, and tigers are what tourists from around the world pay the park fee to see.

While at Bandhavgarh, we were dismayed to discovered that the tigress Sita, made world famous by the cover article in the December 1997 issue of National Geographic, had disappeared. Her loss is most likely due to poaching. More than five other tigers out of a supposed population of only 45 have also vanished, all within the last six months. The entire park was in a state of subdued uproar, with fingers pointed in various directions.

Worth more dead than alive

Only yesterday I heard from Faiyaz Khudsar that 10 tiger skins and four tiger skeletons were recently seized in the Kanha District capital
Balaghat. Some officials would deny it, but commercial poaching is alive and well at both tiger reserves. The proposed park reform should strengthen their anti-poaching measures.

During our visit, we maintained the medical clinic and free school we
installed at the Tiger Trust Conservation Centre at Kanha in 1997. The school and clinic services three nearby villages. In the whole of Kanha's Buffer Zone there are only four medical clinics including our own, all with similar effective ranges. Of the 178 Buffer Zone villages, no more than a dozen have access to any medical service.

For the rest, we introduce local medicinal plant cultivation and use by
means of our demonstration medicinal plant garden. We intend to establish a mobile clinic to benefit more villages in due course.
From their perspective we are a foreign adjunct to the park system, and they likely would give some credit to the tiger reserves for any benefit they receive from us.

Finally, we can all learn something from India's experience. Tiger trophy hunting was not banned until there were fewer than 2,000 tigers left, in spite of which the Indian tiger may still perish. Currently, most independent biologists agree that there may be as few as 4,000 Grizzly bears in British Columbia, regardless of how many more the prohunting BC government claims there are. If we do not ban the Grizzly bear hunt here in our own backyard immediately, our Grizzly bears may go the same way as the highly endangered Indian tiger, or worse, the extinct Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers.

{Anthony Marr is the tiger campaign director for the Western Canada
Wilderness Committee. His next expedition to India will depart from
Vancouver in October or November. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the Wilderness Committee at 604-683-8220.}

@ Environment News Service (ENS) 1999. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, April 4, 1999

India Travelogue - Deep Rural India Expedition

Deep Rural India Expeditions
India Travelogue


A century ago more than 80,000 tigers roamed Asia. Because of trophy hunting and habitat loss fewer than 4500 exist today. The newest threat is poaching. Ironically, with economic success and prosperity in Asia, the demand for traditional oriental "tonics" and "remedies" using body parts of endangered species has skyrocketed. A live tiger is precious and priceless, but to them a dead tiger is worth $100,000. The Chinese revere the strength and power of the tiger, but are "revering the tiger to death."

According to the Fall 1997 Western Canada Wilderness Committee newsletter, "China has hunted the South China tiger from an estimated population of 4,000 in the 1960s down to a pitiful 20 today." Pressure has switched to the Bengal tiger, whose numbers have dropped from 30,000 after World War II to less than 3,000 today. It is estimated that China is importing 300-400 poached Bengal tigers a year from India, and Korea another 200-300 from India and elsewhere. The situation is indeed alarming and the sooner remedial measures are found the better it is.

Why save tigers ?

The Tiger is a beautiful animal. But that is not the only reason we should save it. It is time to realise that when you save the Tiger, you save the forest and in turn secure your food and water security. The Tiger cannot live in places where trees have vanished. In such places, the rain becomes a flood, killing people and destroying homes. It takes away the precious soil, leaving behind a wasteland. The soil jams up our lakes and dams, reducing their ability to store water. By destroying the Tigers' home, we not only harm Tigers, but also ourselves.

There is a very direct link between saving Tigers and saving ourselves. The Tiger thus is the symbol for the protection of all species on our earth, from the tiniest mosquito to the largest elephant, from birds and flowers to crocodiles and frogs. This is why we call the Tiger an apex predator, an indicator of our ecosystem's health.

When the British left India, it left behind a Forest Service which looked after the huge forest areas of India. Every politician of independent India made this service subservient to the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service. According to well known Tiger expert Valmik Thapar, "As far as dedication and commitment by forest officers to protection is concerned, they require a political clout, the political assurance that someone is interested in them. That is going to happen only when there is a dedicated Ministry and a dedicated Police force."
Before Project Tiger was launched in 1972 there was no effective mechanism in India to govern wildlife and forests. Project Tiger is a project of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. This project survived and was successful because we had people like Indira Gandhi and Dr.Karan Singh spearheading. They believed it was important to save India's forests and Tigers and they had political clout. If something happened in a national park or to a tiger, there would be a flurry of phone calls from the Prime Minister or Cabinet minister. So that era witnessed a success in terms of the Project. \

Today, the Project has no power over state governments. It has become akin to a Bank, it disperses money and that's all. The Panning Commission allocated Rs.16 crores ( USD 4 million) to Project Tiger at last count. This money goes to 27 Project Tiger Reserves. The Director of Project Tiger passes cheques after examining proposals from the states. He can advise but he has no powers. " Project Tiger needs to be reformed and restructured in the 21st century" says Valmik Thapar.

Meanwhile, many organisations and well meaning people have come forward and are working dedicatedly to save the big cats. Consider the case of Anthony Marr, a Canadian who is working with WCWC . With a grant from CIDA, Marr is helping Kanha National Park in India safeguard its tiger reserve. In a land where women must walk several kilometres to collect firewood, 90,000 villagers living in the buffer zone surrounding this park eye its potential fuel and grazing land with envy.

"The park is like a feast laid out on a table surrounded by hungry people who are forbidden to touch," says Marr.

The solution? Look after the people so that they will look after the tigers. Partnered with Tiger Trust India, the project is setting up free medical clinics and schools, building community bio-gas plants to show a practical alternative to firewood, and developing training and education programs for park guides and visitors, as well as village teachers, students and their families. "The result will be more than just a change in local people's attitudes towards tigers and parks. It will include a changed, more sustainable way of life. "Marr believes that no one should have the privilege of lack of responsibility. "What excuse will we give our children if we stand by, do nothing, and watch the wild tigers go extinct?"

Today in India we have people of the stature of Valmik Thapar, Kailash Shankala and Billy Arjan Singh all of whom have single-handedly championed the cause of saving the big cats. No one has done more for the Indian Tiger than Valmik Thapar. Thapar has provided new glimpses into the striped animal's obscure behaviour. Holding the distinction of being the first Indian to present a documentary on the BBC on Tigers, Thapar has spent more than 25 years tracking tigers and trying to preserve their population. Director of Ranthambhore Foundation, Thapar is also on the committees of many organisations.

Tiger Tracking :
Tracking Tigers is not all fun and excitement; often it is about as thrilling as land surveying - painstaking map and compass work. But there are rewards for entering the secret world of Tigers. Adult tigers are solitary animals that establish their territories in areas with enough prey, cover and water to support them. The difficulty of locating prey in tiger habitat makes it more efficient for tigers to hunt alone. As a result, they do not tend to form social groups like lions. A female tiger and her cubs are the exception to this, and will form a family group for 2 to 3 years, until the cubs are able to fend for themselves.

The territory of a tiger usually ranges in size from about 10 to 30 square miles (26-78 sq. km). The size of a tiger's territory depends on the amount of prey available. Tiger territories are not exclusive. Several tigers may follow the same trails at different times, and a male's territory usually overlaps those of several females.

Both male and female tigers spray bushes and trees along their route with a mixture of urine and scent gland secretions. This is a way of declaring their territory. They also leave scratch marks on trees, and urinate or leave droppings in prominent places.

Even in areas of prey abundance, the tiger has to work hard for its food since all its prey species have highly evolved systems of self-preservation which the tiger must beat. The regulates, the hoofed herbivores, which constitute the main food of the tiger, have a highly developed sense of smell and reasonably keen senses of sight and sound. Whether living singly (as a sambar does) or in herds (like the chital, nilgai and gaur), they are constantly vigilant as they move, forage or rest. Herd security and leadership is provided by the matriarchs who keep a close watch while the herd is foraging or resting. They constantly shift their muzzle to face the breeze in order to catch scents and funnel their ears in different directions to catch sounds. On apprehension of danger, the first alarm is signaled by stamping a forefoot. If on further assessment, the danger seems real and imminent, a vocal alarms is sounded. Finally, the matriarch provides the lead and the herd drifts, scampers or bolts.

It is true that there are many problems facing forests India. Saving the Tiger involves making difficult decisions, decisions we have been putting off for 20 years. It also means relocating forest - dwelling peoples in a more humane fashion and abolishing timber and other forest product exploitation from critical Tiger habitats.

It may be a dream, but I hope some day India will have an exclusive service fashioned after the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. This is a formidable force supported by a fleet of vehicles including helicopters for patrolling. They have all the necessary surveillance equipment, weaponry and most important, the funds to support their activities.

If we act rationally and deploy our resources wisely, there is still time to save the Tiger.

Thursday, March 18, 1999

India - Hitavada article on Anthony Marr

Save tigers from extinction


The Hitavada ("The oldest and largest circulated English daily in Central India")

[Save tigers from extinction: Marr - Great mission: Anthony Marr educating children about protecting the majestic and beautiful tiger]

"… Mr. Marr who is tirelessly working in India… said that the tiger is the greatest national treasure of India, but even more so, it is a global treasure that is revered the world over. ‘Though it belongs to no individual, its loss would impoverish us all.’…

"… Mr. Marr said that the Royal Bengal tiger might look the most secure of all remain subspecies, but in truth, it is no more secure that the last carriage of a crashing train…

"Currently, Mr. Marr, along with (Canadian volunteer Anne Wittman) and… (Indian conservationist) Faiyaz Khudsar are battling to educate the people living around the Kanha (Tiger Reserve)…"