Monday, August 29, 2011

Broken Tail and Tiger Conservation

PBS has been running Broken Tail: A Tiger's Last Journeya heart breaking  documentary  which emphasizes tiger conservation.  Who isn't mesmerized by Tigers?  Two minutes in, you are hooked by the gorgeous cinematography and the story of an affectionate tiger family and one charismatic  young tiger in particular, called Broken Tail.  

Wildlife filmmaker Colin Stafford-Johnson spent almost two years in Ranthambore National Park, a tiger reserve in India, following the life of these tigers until the tragic end when Broken Tail disappeared.  He then retraces the steps made by Broken Tail to where he met his end on a train track over a hundred miles away. This fascinating journey is visually compelling and emotionally charged, you might be in tears by the end.  But most of all, you will be much more aware of the desperate need for conservation.

Stafford-Johnson's passion for the cause shines, "Tigers are absolutely on the edge," he says, "they have reached critical numbers...we know this and to allow it to happen on our watch, how could you possibly explain that to people in the future?  How could you possibly sit down in a classroom full of kids in fifty years time and explain to them, 'Oh yes, we knew that tigers were on the edge, but oh, we just let them go,' how could you explain that to anyone?  You just couldn't."

Tiger populations have decreased by 95% over the last hundred years.  India's tiger count has gone from 3,600 to 1,400 in the last eight years alone. Tiger reserves need to be widened and connected, they need more space.  

This would be an excellent film for classrooms to help inspire wildlife conservation. You can check your local PBS listings, view this documentary online, or purchase the DVD, but do watch, it's a beautiful film.