Natural for hate-driven Al Jazeera to have heartburn: Govt on 'Project Tiger' report
India's tiger numbers are thriving: the country's 3,167 tigers account for more than 75% of the world’s wild tiger population.
Union minister Bhupendra Yadav on Monday lashed out at a media report claiming India's tiger conservation strategies were “deeply influenced” by American environmentalism and led to uprooting numerous communities that had lived in the forests for millennia. Yadav, Union minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, said the critical report was a result of the “heartburn” experienced by a “hate-driven, propaganda media” when “India is the only country where tiger population is growing.”
“India is the only country where tiger population is growing as opposed to other nations, where it has either stagnated or is declining. So, only natural for ‘hate-driven, propaganda media’ Al Jazeera to experience heartburn,” the minister said in a tweet and posted a clip of the report.
“Some day, if Al Jazeera left propaganda and did journalism, it will be able to appreciate that India’s tiger agenda is inclusive and successful because of the participation of local communities. Our Tiger Reserves generate employment of over 50 L man-days annually for the locals,” he added.
To be sure, the report was originally published by Associated Press, a US-based news agency, and was carried by Al Jazeera. The article titled ‘As tiger count grows, India's Indigenous demand land rights’ took a critical view of India's tiger conservation strategy after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country's tiger population has steadily grown to over 3,000 since its flagship conservation program began 50 years ago.
Project Tiger began in 1973 after a census of the big cats found India’s tigers were fast going extinct through habitat loss, unregulated sport hunting, increased poaching and retaliatory killing by people.
“Some experts say conservation policies that attempted to protect a pristine wilderness were influenced by prejudices against local communities,” the Associated Press said in its report.
Sharachchandra Lele, of the Bengaluru-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, said the conservation model is outdated.
“There are already several examples of forests used actively by local communities and tiger numbers have actually increased even while people have benefited in these regions,” he said.