Today WWF issued a report on tigers. Among other distressing items, there is this:
More tigers are kept in captivity in the U.S. than are left in the wild -- and there are few regulations to keep these tigers from ending up on the black market. The largest numbers of captive tigers are in Texas (an estimated 3,000+), but they are also kept in other statesSoon, if you go looking for tigers, there may not be any to find in the wild. Just in the zoo. You'll be able to watch them walk in circles and growl and snarl. You'll have to imagine, if you can, what it would be like to encounter one while you were walking in the brush:
But I digress. Jorge Luis Borges was really interested in, in fact obsessed with tigers. In his story Blue Tigers the narrator, a professor of logic, searches for a Blue Tiger that was reportedly found in the Ganges Delta. He doesn't find the tiger. Instead, the local villagers send him on a series of wild goose chases by telling him that the tiger has been sighted in various places in the area. He never finds the tiger. No blue tigers. No yellow tigers. No white tigers. Instead he finds something fantastic: "stones of the spawn," blue stones whose behavior defies logic, science and mathematics. But he never finds any tigers, blue or any other color.
When I first read the story, I thought the unsuccessful search for the Blue Tiger was not a big problem. There were, I thought, other tigers to be found. If a Blue Tiger weren't found, that was fine. You could go into the jungle and find other tigers. Thousands of them. Maybe they wouldn't be blue, but at least you could find a tiger if you wanted to.
But now the missing Blue Tiger, the one not found in the story, has become a bigger problem. A far bigger, more worrisome one. Soon, humans will have made common tigers as rare as blue ones in Borges stories. And we will be devastatingly poorer for our reckless and stupid conduct that killed them off. When we act like that, we humans don't deserve anything as wonderful, as fierce, as wild, as beautiful as a tiger.