Dec 30, 2013
Why are some animal species disappearing? How do we bring them back? Are we heading towards a world ‘without tigers’? Are there enough initiatives to address the plight of these magnificent cats? ‘Tigers Forever-Saving the World’s Most Endangered Big Cat’ published by a National Geographic photojournalist Steve Winter and co-authored by Sharon Guynup is a tell-all tale about the tiger’s fight for survival which answers the above mentioned questions. According to Guynup, only 3,200 (wild) tigers have been left, scattered in small pockets across Asia. In the final words of the book, she writes, “That’s a shockingly low number. The time to act is now. Once the last tigers disappear, no longer gliding on velvet paws through the jungle, we cannot bring them back.” Before he decided to collaborate with Guynup on this book, Winter spent a decade on assignments in search of wild tigers, trying to capture images of the magnificent cat in Myanmar, India, Sumatra and Thailand, hoping to reinvigorate global concern as their numbers continued to plummet. Guynup, an environmental journalist, began reporting on issues of the big cats, seven years ago. “In 2007, while working on a story about poaching in India’s Kaziranga National Park, I glimpsed my first tiger in the wild and started writing about them. I studied the various initiatives taken across the globe and realized that together, we needed to speak louder for tigers,” Guynup told PTI in an interview. Sharing his experience about one of the most challenging shots taken for the book, Winter says, “It took me nearly a month, waiting outside a den in Bandhavgarh on an elephant, to get the photograph that is the cover of the book.” Adding to his story Sharon says, “When Steve first came to Bandhavgarh six months ago, he wanted to capture images of two mothers there with their cubs. By the time he came to India after finalising the permits, both mothers were dead, one poisoned and the other run over by a park vehicle.” However, another big challenge that two of them had to face was Hurricane Sandy which made the publishing of this book under deadline even more difficult. “When Hurricane Sandy hit the US, we had just begun working on the book. Our home was flooded, we were displaced–and we were under pressure of deadlines as National Geographic wanted the book release to coincide with their 125th anniversary, which was in October this year,” Guynup says. “Our building was inundated with five feet of noxious water that knocked out all building systems and destroyed lots of personal property, including files, photo equipment, and 20 years of field gear,” she adds. The book published by National Geographic and distributed by Random House, includes over 100 images of tigers and their secret behaviours with insights into why one of the world’s most iconic species is careening towards the edge. “The book also includes information gleaned from over 60 interviews with tiger experts across the globe, exploring why these cats have been both feared and revered throughout human history, detailing the threats that face them and the bold initiatives to save them,” says Guynup.