From around 40,000 at the turn of the last century, there are very few tigers left in India today. The current tiger population of India constitutes over 50% of the world’s tiger population. The coming years will be extremely crucial for the long term survival of the tiger.
NDTV-Aircel Save Our Tigers campaign is a social campaign to create awareness about the alarming state of the tiger in the Country at the moment, encourage tiger conservation and save tigers from extinction. The campaign is supported by India’s Superstar Amitabh Bachchan, Sanctuary Asia, India’s premier wildlife magazine and the Wildlife Conservation Trust, an organisation deeply involved in conserving tiger habitats across the country.
The campaign provided a platform to tiger conservationists for issues to be raised,
engaged key stakeholders in discussions and provided concerned citizens an opportunity
to voice their opinions and contribute to the cause. Our campaign to save our tigers
ignited people across the country. There were marches, cycle rallies and signature
campaigns demanding that the government act before it's too late.
The campaign was officially launched on 5th April 2014 with the Aircel-NDTV Tiger Agenda show which witnessed the coming together of well-known personalities from different walks of life to participate in a panel discussion and set key focus areas for the season and to set the Tiger Agenda to be taken to representatives of the new government in August. Present on the occasion were Belinda Wright, Executive Director, WPSI, Anupam Vasudev, Chief Marketing Officer, Aircel; Dr. K. Ramesh from Wildlife Institute of India; S P Yadav, ADIG, NTCA; Dr. Anish Andheria, Director, Wildlife Conservation Trust; Bittu Sahgal, Editor of Sanctuary Asia; and was anchored by Vikram Chandra, Group CEO, NDTV Group.
The Tiger Agenda this year focuses on key issues like Involvement of local communities in conservation, Strengthening of the forest department to eliminate poaching, Improvement of man-animal conflict mitigation measures, zero tolerance approach to poaching, Increase in Protection of buffer-zones & corridors and to Make political parties accountable towards wildlife conservation.
This year we are urging school children, youth and concerned citizens to support the agenda by signing their names on signature sheets which will then be taken to the representatives of the new government in August. We launched the Aircel-NDTV Signature Drive on June 5th World Environment Day and have a collection day for signatures on July 29th World Tiger Day which will be held in Tiger Hubs across New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. The collection day will feature an art competition for students where we will ask students to colour up the TIGER.
The Second Year was launched with a Car Rally organized by Aircel and the Constitution Club of India. Parliamentarians and Celebrities raced through the streets of the capital to raise awareness for the campaign.
Programming in the 2nd year looked to widen the range of features. NDTV tested out the first of the Rapid Response Units to get an idea as to how this unit would soon become a key part of wildlife protection. Investigative stories and specials were broadcast from tiger reserves across the country, trying to seek out answers to the diminishing plight of our national animal. NDTV’s leading team of environmental correspondents like Vikram Chandra, Swati Thiyagarajan, Gargi Rawat, Rubina Khan Shapoo, Ketki Angre and Anjilee Istwal travelled to remote locations to bring us exclusives, impact stories and special original features.
Special promos and promotional hoardings were created to promote the date of the second live 12 hour Save Our Tigers telethon. On July 15th 2012, Amitabh Bachchan returned to host the only telethon to be broadcast from an outdoor location. He went that extra mile by speaking to the villagers living on the periphery of Ranthambore National Park to understand their problems.
The biggest names in conservation joined us on one stage to educate the audience and to endorse our cause. In Year-II, the campaign aimed to create the "Tiger Defence Unit" in major tiger reserves across the country. We raised almost Rs 6 Cr in pledges thanks to viewers, corporates and celebrities from across the country. The funds raised were utilized for:
- Monitoring the RRUs
- Intensive Training of RRU teams
- Strengthening the guard outposts with Anti-Poaching Camps
- Supporting NGOs
- Additional RRUs
The campaign provided a platform to tiger conservationists for issues to be raised, engaged key stakeholders in discussions and provided concerned citizens an opportunity to voice their opinions and contribute to the cause. Our campaign to save our tigers ignited people across the country. There were marches, cycle rallies and signature campaigns demanding that the government act before it's too late.
A series of special tiger programmes were telecast to highlight the situation and challenges facing our national animal. The campaign in its first year itself, helped bring forth a common agenda for tiger conservation which was presented to Chief Ministers of key tiger states, who committed their support to take affirmative action on-ground.
The first year of the NDTV-Aircel Save Our Tigers campaign culminated with a 12-hour live telethon. During the telethon, the best minds on tiger conservation appealed to political leaders and the general public to do whatever they could to help safeguard the most charismatic of big cats on Earth. As a welcome result of the campaign, several prominent political leaders, artists, singers, students, conservationists and celebrities came on air and pledged to protect the tiger.
The Telethon was an overwhelming success and almost 5 Crore rupees was raised through donations. Hemendra Kothari, Chairman, DSP Blackrock Investment Managers Pvt. Ltd. and Chairman, Wildlife Conservation Trust pledged to match viewer donation rupee to rupee.
During the first year, the funds collected were used to provide over 35 Rapid Response Units [RRU] to Tiger Reserves across the country. Each Rapid Response Unit had over 30 types of different equipment specially tailored for tiger protection including a customized Mahindra Bolero Camper Vehicle and Hero Motorbikes.