Chronicles of an unlikely editor

Tiger Nation was once just a germ of an idea. Seems a long time back admittedly, but it was only a year and half ago. Back then, I had a problem just thinking how to bring it all together.

How could we seek to chronicles the lives of tigers in a novel, compelling and fascinating way? How could we use these stories, as the basis on which we could further tiger research, build long term histories, and keep a better eye on them? How could it be funded and sustained? Finally, how could everyone’s photographs and footage alongside amazing new technologies and the buzz of ‘citizen science’ and social media help us to get there?

I can’t quite believe it but we have it all here, all together and now (nearly) always working.

Understand, I was never meant to be the editor, or more precisely, the chronicler of a real time, wild time soap opera. The job was meant for a real experienced and talented natural history writer.

Wordsmithing is not my natural territory. Indeed, I have always pitied writers having to produce wondrous prose against never ending deadlines and editors for the continuous timekeeping that publishing demands. However, in truth, I have rather enjoyed the job; been gripped by the stories coming out of the wild; fallen in love (and out of love) with many of the tiger’s surprisingly human characteristics, and loved the drama and suspense that is life in India’s feted jungles. Sadly however, my ability to edit the diaries, caption the images and streamline the articles at anything more than snail’s pace has not improved.

Like anything that is novel and new, Tiger Nation has needed a thousand other things to happen at the same time and to settle down into some sort of daily routine. We’ve needed real experts in the field to tell us what is happening, scientists to advise us how best to use the technology, cameramen to send us footage, Park Directors to support us, and of course lots of you to help us gather the information and photos that we will depend on to make it happen. The result ; a lot of behind the scenes juggling, endless drama, sleepless nights and lots of banging of desks, just to keep the whole Tiger Nation show on the road, and a very complex website on your computer screens.

Really I am what Indian’s would call a ‘wildlifer’ or ‘Junglee’, a person who infinitely prefers to be in the wild than in front of a computer screen. I am also very un technologically savvy (if there is such a word), having tended to avoid or run away from anything resembling a box with a screen on it over the last 25 years of my career.

So if I am an reluctant editor, the reality is I’m an even more unlikely web entrepreneur.

It’s just the whole idea I could not resist.

Whether it be through a 2x3" mobile phone screen or a 19" monitor, our kids and grand kids view the world through social media. This has got to be the way forward. No more the wildlife documentaries I grew up with, they're not interested. All of you out there can help in small ways - if you have kids or grand kids, give them any material you have, photos, artwork souvenirs of your trips. 'Show and Tell' at their schools are just one outlet. My 10 year old grandson had to do a project on India - perfect!! He had a stand-up ovation from his classmates! This is how it spreads, small things, upload, not just to Tiger Nation, but Facebook, Twitter, Youtube. You never know, it may go 'viral' to use the parlance of IT. Julian has given us the grand picture, we need to fill in the detail. You may be a reluctant editor, Julian, but you've sown the seed and now it's up to us and the next generations to nurture. Tiger Nation has been 50 years in the making, may be longer. All it needed was one man's inspiration and the technology to carry it out. Thank you. (Sorry, did not intend this to go so far, got carried away, never in my life have I had a platform like this to express my feelings around this beautiful cat!!).

Barasingha | about 7 years ago

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