Mumbai: Cricket icon Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar will now bat for Maharashtra’s endangered big striped cats by becoming a ‘Tiger Ambassador’, an official said here on Monday.
Last Thursday (Aug 13), Tendulkar wrote to Maharashtra Finance and Forests Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar expressing his willingness to join the cause of conserving and protecting tigers in the state.
The development came three days after Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan agreed to become a Tiger Ambassador.
The duo’s response followed Mungantiwar’s personal letters to on July 29, which was the World Tiger Day, an aide to the minister said.
“I compliment your team on the efforts being undertaken for Project Tiger and would be happy to meet you to discuss this. I have always been concerned about tiger conservation and distinctly remember dedicating one of my Test centuries, during my playing days, to increase awareness of the cause,” Tendulkar wrote.
He sought details of the government’s expectations from him in the capacity of a Tiger Ambassador and how he could promote the cause.
Last Tuesday, Mungantiwar called on Bachchan at his office and discussed the modalities of his new real-life role as the state’s first Tiger Ambassador.
“I have around 42 million followers on social media. I am confident that these followers will understand and appreciate my role as Tiger Ambassador. Maharashtra is bestowed with abundant resources of nature and wildlife which is not known to many people in and out of Maharashtra,” Bachchan said on the occasion.
Mungantiwar presented a life-size replica of a tiger and books published by the forest department on the topic to Bachchan.
Maharashtra has six tiger sanctuaries, including five in Vidarbha (eastern part of the state) and one in the Sahyadri ranges in the western part, besides Madhya Pradesh’s four, Chhattisgarh’s three and Telangana’s one.
The state has asked the central government to allocate special funds to conserve and protect the big cats in these four states.
Mungantiwar pointed out that Vidarbha had the potential to become the ‘tiger capital’ of the country, with its tiger population rising from 169 in 2006 to 190 in 2014.
India is currently home to 2,226 tigers, shooting up significantly from 1,706 in 2010.