Why do you only photograph tigers? A frequently asked question. I will try my best to answer it in this post. Firstly, if you scroll through my profile you will see that I do not “only photograph tigers”. Yes, I do post a lot about tigers. Here is why. The tiger is a flagship species. This means that due to its charismatic appeal, it has become an ambassador for its habitat – the forests, grasslands, mangroves and every single species that live in it.
There are countless tales, legends and films about the might of a tiger. So it is very easy to deliver a strong conservation message with a post about an animal that is admired by people all across the world. A large majority of people happen to connect more with an animal such as the tiger than, say a frog or a honeybee. Yet these two species are extremely important to the ecosystem, perhaps more than the tiger itself.
In an ideal world, every being would be considered equally charismatic, by every single person. But we do not live in that world, at least not yet. While I can spend several hours – watching in complete amazement – as dung beetles roll up soil & dung into tiny spheres. It is not necessary that others might like that as well. An insect is unable to grip someone’s imagination. Frogs are considered as pests by many. The presence of a bee sends people running the other direction. But that’s fine. I don’t want to force my hand on someone’s personal opinion.
A large majority of people connect with the tiger. We can use that to save the frog and the honeybee too. Flagship species such as the tiger are able to raise a lot of awareness/funds for conservation purposes which frogs and bees are not. Yet they share the same habitat so by saving one you are also conserving the other. The countless species of trees, frogs, bees, reptiles, mammals, insects, the soil and in the origin of 600+ rivers… Isn’t that fantastic?
I truly love the forest and its animals. So if I can use the charisma of the tiger to influence someone’s view about the importance of conserving wild spaces then I have done my small part in trying to conserve the frog and the honeybee too… And I will continue to do better each time I can.