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Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright

2012 November 21
by Shared by Steve Rust

This weekend while channel surfing I stumbled upon a public service ad about tigers tied to the upcoming release of director Ang Lee’s latest film, Life of Pi, which is adapted from the best-selling novel by Canadian author Yann Martel.  It’s common knowledge at this point that there are more tigers living in captivity in the United States alone than living in the wild spaces of Asia so I thought I’d do a bit of digging to see how conservations efforts are faring in India.  In July 2012 India’s Supreme Court invoked a temporary ban on tiger tourism, particularly around sensitive breeding areas in nation’s oldest tiger reserve, Jim Corbett National Park. By August, however, large groups of protestors, whose livelihoods depend on tiger tourism, took to the streets to protest the court’s ruling.

In October, the court lifted the ban, though, according to a report in the Times of India, also advised “all authorities to strictly adhere to the guidelines notified by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.” Life of Pi is certainly not the first and hopefully not the last film to raise awareness of this issue as tigers, like leopards, lions, cheetahs, and other big cats have long since become listed as endangered species.  For example, consider Indian filmmaker Ashvin Kumar’s latest film, The Forest. Famous for a documentary on football (i.e. soccer) Kumar has taken several years to achieve theatrical release for his first fiction film, which features live animals rather than cgi, though several animals were held in captivity during production. Life of Pi, by the way, combines cgi and live action. The Forest deals with issues surrounding human encroachment into wildlife habitat and the inevitable tragedies for humans and big cats that can result from their interaction. Here’s a description and trailer: “A starving leopard has been shot by poachers and can’t hunt his normal prey. This perfect killer has become so accustomed to hunting man that he’s begun to think like us. As darkness falls, a night of terror begins.” If you’re interested, please post you thoughts on Life of Pi, The Forest, and related films to the comments section.

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