Published in 1998, The Year of the Tiger
Future writers of wildlife dictionary should not leave out the phrase Nepal tiger in their reference to the panthera tigris mainly inhabiting the plains and grassland of Chitwan, Bardia and Shuklaphanta. The practice helps them to be more realistic and scientific in identifying the tigers found in the dense jungle of Nepal. The year 1988 could be a good starting point for entering the classification in the tiger – semantics.
The search for a new nomenclature does not seek to challenge the time-honoured tradition of words related to the world’s most magnificent mammal and its various classification. It aims at specifying the creatures roaming in a green geographical area as against the one’s different places. The countries having their forest have developed special schemes to preserve the animal for the benefit of mankind and the planet’s ecology. The research methodologies and breeding practices they could adopt in course of time would make the species preserved have a distinct personality and therefore, requiring a special reference.
Nepal has over the years mastered conservation practice specially meant for jungle cat and foreign research-workers have lauded the way the country has succeeded in the conservation of tigers. The phrase Nepal tigers would best suit the practice of preservation being undertaken in the Terai forests of Nepal specially in central, western and far western Nepal.
A close analysis of terms and phrases used in tiger – literature of nearly 14 tiger range countriesdepicts a general trend of using the local dialect and phonetic practice in all references to the animals living in the territory of the sovereign countries. Wildlife experts in Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, India and Bangladesh also follow the convention to be more specific and scientific. They, however, maintain the traditional conversation of tiger-classification.
Conservation by nature is a local phenomenon which cannot be practised without having serious and sincere commitment of the people of givern areas. The phraseology palatable to them could be more helpful in making the people understand the importance of preserving a certain species. To the people of Chitwan, Bardia and Shuklaphanta, the phrase “save Nepal tiger” makes sense while the expression “save the Siberian tiger” does not appeal.
In Nepal people get confused in the use of words that refer the tiger. The people take leopards to be synonym of the panther tigris. The media persons do not take care in differentiating between the two. While tiger are not generally found in the hilly areas and mountains, they are referred to each time a leopard causes havoc in villages. All should pledge that they would use the two words differently and carefully and not blend as per their convenience on the occasion of the Year of the Tiger. The tiger should not be blamed for what leopards do and vice versa.
Pate Bagh is the Nepali phrase for the stripped animal with considerable length and body weight. In other words it is the vernacular equivalent of what wildlife experts usually call Bengal tiger, a name that has special place in the world of Panthera Tigis.
Bengal tigers, once distributed continuously across the low land Himalayan forests, have now been confined to small isolated protected areas in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Experts fear most of these sanctuaries are not large enough to sustain long term viable tiger populations. The tigers under the classification have different local names in various countries. The expression Nepal tigers could safely be used in the context of the tiger without affecting the connotation of what experts dub the biological classification.
A number of practices could be institutionalized for the broad interest of the Panthera tigris on the occasion of the Year of the Tiger. One of them could be the use of nomenclature as appropriate as Nepal tigers. (S. B. Pradhan)