Steps needed to save tigers: NGO

PUNE: An exhibition of around 150 photographs showcasing India's rich heritage of biodiversity was organised by NGO Tiger Action Force at the Balgandharva Art Gallery on Sunday.

The idea was to create awareness about the International Year of Bio-Diversity being celebrated this year.

A section of photographs focused on the decline in wildlife population because of poaching and road accidents. Screening of the documentary Truth about Tigers' and lectures on wildlife conservation were also a part of the exhibition.

An attraction of the exhibition was the display of handicraft items made by tribals Mogya Handicrafts by Tiger Watch', and T-shirts made by SPROUTS, an NGO.

Gaurav Mahajan, a member of Tiger Action Force, told TOI that the photographs were taken by 17 wildlife photographers across the country.

"Immediate steps need to be taken to save the dwindling number of tigers. Through our NGO, we call upon the youth to come forward voluntarily to help protect our pride, the tiger," he said.

Members of Tiger Action Force are from all walks of life. Their interest in environment brought them together to start this NGO last year. They organise awareness programmes in educational institutes.

Mridula Vijairaghavan, a first year B Com student of Symbiosis and a member, says that incidents of wild animals killed in tiger reserves are reported all over the country. "Big animals like nil gai, tigers, leopards and even elephants are hit by running vehicles. It is all because of internal fragmentation of forests by roads and highways."

The NGO is also working to make tribals residing in forest areas self-reliant. Another member, Utpal Tongo says, "Efforts are made to help tribals be less dependent on forest produce. We are encouraging them in bamboo art and see that they get a market to sell their produce. All these tribals are from Melghat area."

Closer home, Tiger Action Force is working towards conservation and protection of the Pashan lake. Members Siddharth Pai, an engineer, and Bhagyesh Pidyar, an insurance consultant, say that they are preparing a draft on the water quality, bird count and plantation to be taken up in Pashan lake.

"With the guidance of Professor Sanjeev Nalavade, faculty at Fergusson College, we are preparing this draft, which will be submitted to the Pune Municipal Corporation. The bird count of the lake has drastically gone down because of the habitat modification in the lake," they said.