Chennai: National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on Saturday cautioned all tiger states in India and their chief wildlife wardens to take steps and prevent circulation of tiger photos in Facebook and WhatsApp groups with their location.
A copy of the circular issued by Dr Vaibhav C. Mathur, assistant inspector general of forests, available with DC says NTCA has received information that pictures of tigers and their camera traps with locations of tiger reserves are shared widely on social media. Such information in the public domain has the potential to be used for committing wildlife crimes (read poaching), the letter said.
Official sources in the TN forest department said that there are no legal provisions to ban pictures of wild animals being posted on social media, but the objective is to refrain the public from sharing the information related to tigers and leopards highly vulnerable to poaching.
“A lot of public money and effort goes into conserving big cats. To protect the tiger population of about 2,300, the country spends close to Rs 150 crore every year. India has seventy per cent of the world tiger population. In this context, there is a need to maintain secrecy on tiger habitats”, opined conservation scientist Dr A. Kumaraguru, member, Sathyamanagalam Tiger Conservation Foundation.
In Tamil Nadu, tiger tourism is not encouraged, unlike the north Indian states and this regulation of wildlife pictures through social media is certainly a tough task for foresters. Wildlife filmmakers and naturalists do not disclose the location of tigers, as they are aware of the awaiting danger to wild cats. However, it is for the public to volunteer themselves and stop circulating wildlife photos. Further wildlife tourism in India attracts thousands of foreigners and they love to click pictures of elephants and tigers. And I wonder how to regulate them, Kumaraguru added.