We are familiar with humans getting stressed and depressed. But what about animals? Do they also get stressed? If animals did get stressed, what would be the reason? They have no deadlines and they don’t want to save money to pay back the loan. They never compare each other and they never show off that they are better than others. They have no reason to get stressed. That too the tigers should really be very proud and happy right? Because they are our so-called ‘national animal’ – a designation that any other animal would dream to have. They are always on the limelight. People are always queuing to see them and to take a photograph all year round. So why should they get stressed?

A study by Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has found Tigers in Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha Tiger Reserve and Sariska national Park are under tremendous stress induced by tourism and this is probably affecting their reproduction. The study examined the relationship between anthropogenic disturbance (pollution caused by humans) and physiological stress levels among tiger populations. They used a stress marker called faecal Glucocorticoid Metabolite (fGCM) and assessed concentrations in individual tigers. It has been found significantly higher fGCM concentrations which are due to the stress caused in tigers during the tourism period compared to the non-tourism period. Studies had also shown that the tigers had failed to reproduce effectively due to high levels of stress.

According to WWF, there are only 2,226 tigers left in the wild in India. Tiger is a top predator which is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. Therefore, the presence of tigers in the forest is an indicator of the well being of the ecosystem. The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.

Knowing that humans are not only getting stressed themselves but also making the other species get stressed is a sad thing to bear. The wilderness is to be experienced and not to be disturbed and polluted. Human, who is fundamentally a social animal should learn a lot from our animal counterparts how to coexist more peacefully and to be better animals.

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

-Mahatma Gandhi



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