Valmik Thapar: On the Trail of the Tiger
A famous wildlife expert and conservationist, Valmik Thapar is an Indian natural historian who has dedicated his life to research on tiger protection in the country. A well known naturalist, he rose to worldwide fame with BBC’s famous television series Land of the Tiger. A man who has successfully gone on to produce and narrate countless documentaries for media houses including Animal Planet and Discovery, and penned a plethora of books on the Indian tiger, is a man of passion. A man whose heart truly lies in the wild – Valmik Thapar.
As the Wild Caught On
Born and brought up by journalist parents, Thapar was well aware of the power play in politics. Despite topping the entire Delhi University in Sociology, it was the cause of the wild that beckoned him. He kick-started a rebellion to save the tiger, a cause he firmly believed in. Soon, he found himself delving in photography and went on to direct documentaries focussing on the natural habitats of India with specific references to the tiger population.
Early Years in the Forest
Backed by an eager heart and an analytical mind, before long Valmik Thapar was a name to reckon with on the wildlife radar of India. It was inevitable that he’d get involved with the various campaigns and efforts of the government when it came to wildlife. Thapar was extremely instrumental in analysing the failure of Project Tiger 1973, critiquing it from a variety of standpoints. Among other shortcomings, Thapar highlighted the mismanagement by forest bureaucracy, owing to their lack of scientific training. Thapar has also criticised the Ministry of Environment & Forests with respect to their unwillingness to ban poaching by employing armed patrols.
To ensure sustainable human habitation in the green covers of the country, Thapar started the Ranthambore Foundation in 1987. With only a handful of members, the Foundation promoted a series of welfare programmes to empower the village folk and emancipate their lives. This multifaceted foundation has laid down provisions to help the female folk of the village generate substantial income to run their livelihoods through local handicrafts.
Alternate sources of energy generation like biogas generators using cattle dung were employed to ensure a cleaner supply of fuel. As an idealist, Thapar envisioned a society where citizens recognize their duty towards the environment – particularly towards saving the tiger. He aimed at inculcating the value of social responsibility in citizens with regard to the decline in tiger population.
To Thapar’s dimay and disappointment, the government’s control of the forests coupled with capitalists’ thirst for wealth, and the locals’ own disregard for the forest led to a sharp decline in the natural habitat as well as the population of the royal beast. After being roped into the steering committee of Project Tiger in 1972, Thapar’s role in the Ranthambore Foundation steadily declined .
The effort continues
Taking his efforts to save the tiger beyond national boundaries, Thapar has conducted numerous talks, conferences and seminars globally – about tigers and their instrumentality. He has been active in suggesting proactive measures to curb the crisis of a rapidly declining tiger population. In addition to being a world renound activist and speaker, Thapar is a member of several wildlife organizations including International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Cat Specialist Group and the National Board of Wildlife.
For decades now, Valmik Thapar has been pacing the power corridors and chasing ministers – sensitizing them about the need to seek urgent measures at the national as well as international level to bring about a stability in the population of the magnificent animal. His indifference about the position he is conversing with and the passion in his reasoning needs to be seen to believe. In a nutshell, Valmik Thapar is a naturalist determined to bring about a change in the attitude towards environmental degradation – especially for tigers.
We urge our readers to join his venture and ‘Save The Tiger’.
She loves to write on topics of social interest.She finds her passion in dancing. She is an avid reader with an inclination towards research journals.
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