Tiger tiger burning bright

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Tiger tiger burning bright

Thursday, 08 February 2024 | Pioneer

Tiger tiger burning bright

The Govt’s move to keep mobile network towers away from core tiger habitats is laudable

In this age of digital connectivity, where mobile networks reach even the most remote corners of the globe, a critical question arises: At what cost do we expand our communications infrastructure? This question is particularly befuddling when it comes to protecting the habitat of some of our planet's most endangered species, such as the majestic tiger. The recent push by the Government to disallow telephone towers in tiger habitats is a welcome step. The Environment Ministry has issued guidelines prohibiting the installation of mobile towers in core and critical tiger habitats; these emphasise the need to balance connectivity and wildlife conservation. The guidelines say that while providing connectivity to people in or near wildlife-rich areas should be priority, “the protection and conservation of wildlife habitats should not get affected”. While mobile networks undoubtedly offer benefits for human populations, their presence in tiger territories can have devastating consequences for these already endangered animals. The primary concern with setting up mobile towers in tiger habitats lies in the disruption it causes to their natural environment. Tigers, like many other species, rely on vast, undisturbed areas for hunting, breeding and rearing their young. The introduction of mobile towers can fragment these habitats, leading to habitat loss, increased human-wildlife conflict and a decline in tiger population. Moreover, electromagnetic radiation poses a potential threat to the behaviour, health, reproduction and overall fitness of tigers and other wildlife.

In sensitive ecosystems like tiger habitats, even slight disturbances can have far-reaching consequences. Organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and various governmental agencies have been working tirelessly to safeguard these critical areas. These efforts often involve habitat restoration, anti-poaching measures, community engagement and scientific research to better understand tiger behaviour and ecology. One notable initiative in tiger conservation is the establishment of protected areas, such as national parks and wildlife reserves. These designated zones provide a haven for tigers and other wildlife, where human activities are carefully regulated to minimise disturbances. Additionally, conservationists work closely with local communities to promote coexistence and sustainable land use practices. However, despite these efforts, conserving tigers remains an uphill battle. Encroachment by humans, poaching, habitat degradation, and now the threat from mobile towers continue to jeopardise the future of these iconic animals. Strategic planning and zoning regulations can help ensure that mobile towers are placed away from sensitive habitats, minimising their impact on wildlife. Furthermore, the adoption of alternative technologies, such as satellite or fibre optic networks, can provide connectivity without encroaching on tiger territories. Ultimately, the fate of tigers and other wild animals hinges on our ability to balance progress with conservation.

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