Anyone interested in tigers, seeing them in the wild, protecting them, and learning about their struggle to survive and live among humans, are well-advised to watch the new National Geographic documentary 'Tigerland' now available for viewing on The Discovery Channel. And, anyone who has been on a Wildland Adventures safari to see tigers in India will not want to miss it because the film features our in-country director, Amit Sankhala, who shares the story of four generations of his family who have dedicated their lives to protecting the Bengal tiger.
The film documents the story of two protagonists who led the fight in their respective countries to save the tiger. One of them is, Kailash Sankahla, Amit's grandfather who convinced Prime Minister Indira Ghandi to support his national conservation initiative called Project Tiger to create national parks and reserves to protect their habitat and cease hunting. (The other protagonist is Pavel Fomenko working to protect the Amur Tiger of Siberia.) We watched the film, crying for the struggle of tigers. Crying with joy for the successes of current conservation campaigns. Crying with gratitude for the rare opportunities we've had to view so many tigers on safari in India.
This fascinating story, including one man's escape from a tiger at its fiercest, is close to our hearts at Wildland because it tells the story of the Sankhala family with whom we've been working for 10 years. Wildland Director, Kurt Kutay, was a founding board member of The International Ecotourism Society with Amit's father Pradeep in the early 90's. Pradeep built two of the first ecotourism lodges near tiger parks that we continue to use today. Amit now operates those lodges, Kanha and Bandavgarh, with his cousins Dimple and Tarun, and recently built the luxury Jamtara Wilderness Camp next to Pench National Park that we use no our Ultimate India Cultural and Wildlife Safari.
What's it like to see a tiger in the wild? Wildland travelers tell their own story on this short video:
Amit is featured prominently telling the story of his grandfather's successful initiatives to start the Project Tiger campaign and protect the rapidly disappearing population of tigers in the 1960's. Thanks to the campaign and many other tiger conservationists and organizations who have stepped up efforts to protect them, the tiger population throughout India has slowly risen to recent counts at around 4,000, up from a little over 1,000 individuals just 10 years ago!
When you travel with Wildland Adventures to India we invite you to join our 10,000 Tigers Campaign we initiated through our non-profit Travelers Conservation Trust foundation to support tiger habitat protection and improve tiger tourism management. Leading scientists in India believe the current habitat throughout the country is sufficient to support up to 10,000 tigers! While that may be an impractical challenge in this day and age, it's nonetheless a worthy target in the right direction. One specific action we took under this initiative was the sponsorship of Vinod Ayam, a local villager from a community next to Kanha National Park, so he could participate in a guide training program to better his life and provide more benefits to his community and ultimately create incentives for local people to protect the tiger rather than hunting them. Today, Vinod, is one of our leading guides at Kanha Jungle Lodge and a highly respected member of the community clearly demonstrating and sharing the value of tigers alive rather than dead.
So, check out Tigerland on your local National Geographic Discovery Channel or online: Tigerland online. This spring and summer we will be traveling with Amit to give private showings in Seattle, Los Angeles and other venues yet to be organized.