The greedy poachers sell their skins, bones and blood for a very high price in the illegal, international market. Each tiger is supposed to fetch over Rs. 6 lakh in underground markets, flourishing in China, Hong-Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam.
A pair of tiger claws is priced at Rs. 12,000 each. Other parts of the animal are put to various uses. While tiger-skins serve as glamorous showpieces for the rich, other parts are used for medicinal purposes. The World Conservation Union has warned that at this rate, the Indian tiger would be completely wiped out in the near future.
This is a threat which holds good for all of our wildlife. In the grassy swamps of Manas and Kaziranga wildlife parks, the rhinoceros is the target. They are killed for their costly, matted horns, which are supposed to sell for Rs. 13 lakh each.
Their main markets are in China, where they are used to make medicines, and Yemen, where they are converted into dagger- handles.
Other worse-affected victims are the leopards, which are shot for their fur, having a soaring demand in East Europe and Russia.
Our elephants are killed for their ivory, out of which a variety of fascinating things are carved. The musk deer of the Himalayas are butchered for the perfumed pods under their belly. They cater to the cosmetic industry of European markets.
As if this is not enough, the black bears are killed for their gall-bladders, again for Chinese medical practitioners. Snakes lose their skin which is tanned and made into belts and purses for Greek and Italian traders. The mongooses are slaughtered in thousands for their bristly hair to make all kinds of brushes.
This heartlessly, senseless, illegal killing of all our animals continues unabated. No doubt, the government has taken some steps to save these animals and has established a number of animal-reserves all over the country.
These include the Jim Corbet Park, Dudhwa National Park, Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Nagarjunsagar Project in Andhra Pradesh and so on. However, even these reserves have not been able to completely safeguard the life of our precious animals.
A number of drastic measures is the need of the hour to improve the over-all situation. First of all, there should be an efficient, responsive management and control of these parks. Anti-poaching staff should be well-armed and mobile. They should be tough, incorruptible and committed to the job of putting down poaching with a strong hand.
Further, the offenders, who are caught killing animals, should be severely dealt with. Finally, the people of the villages, around these parks, too should be educated to protect the animal that might wander into the village.