The Maharashtra government has written to cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and actor Amitabh Bachchan requesting them to be brand ambassadors for its tiger conservation project, it was announced in Mumbai on Monday. Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told reporters that he has written to the two icons last week seeking their involvement in the government’s efforts to save tigers and promote tourism in the tiger sancturies.
When asked about their remuneration as Maharashtra forest department brand ambassadors, Mungantiwar said, “We will not pay them anything. We expect them to be involved without monetary considerations. So far, both have not replied to the state’s request….The forest department alone cannot do everything to protect and conserve the tiger. Public participation is needed to do it and hence we have decided to appoint brand ambassadors to promote the ‘Save Tiger’ campaign,” he said.
He said that Maharashtra state has asked the Union government to allocate a special fund to conserve and protect tigers for Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, which is the belt in which maximum number of tigers are found.
Maharashtra has five tiger reserves, MP has four tiger reserves, Chhattisgarh has three tiger reserves while Telangana has one tiger reserve.
“Within the periphery of four states, more than 350 tigers have been conserved and hence we have requested financial assistance from the Centre,” Mungantiwar said. He said that Vidarbha has potential to become capital of tigers, and hence state has taken initiative of awareness towards conservation of tiger.
He said that the number of tigers had increased by 21 during the last four years.
“As per the 2006 census, there were 169 tigers, while in as per the 2014 census, their number has increased to 190 tigers,” he said.
As per the 2014 census, Maharashtra has 190 tigers out of a total 2,226 tigers in the country. Mungantiwar said that the Maharashtra government is preparing a detailed project report for all five tiger reserves for tourism and tiger conservation.
“Across the world, July 29 is celebrated as Tigers’ Day. Since there is a mourning of seven days after late President A P J Abdul Kalam’s death, the day will be celebrated tomorrow,” Mungantiwar said.