Actor-producer Abhay Deol on his association with Animal Planet to turn the spotlight on tigers and the need to protect them

“We all have our advantages and disadvantages,” says actor-producer Abhay Deol. “As a celebrity, I have the advantage of reaching out to people. This can be used for a better purpose; one that will benefit all.” And Abhay is doing just that. He, along with actor Chitrangada Singh, has joined hands with Animal Planet to spread the message of tiger conservation.

He will be part of the channel’s month-long programme Where Tigers Rule. It will take viewers on a journey into the world of these magnificent animals in India. In a telephone interview, Abhay says that he is “more than happy” to be associated with such a cause. “The number of tigers in the wild in India is very low. This is a serious issue. It’s about life; it needs to be addressed,” he says. The task is not impossible, for “we are known to be traditionally and culturally inclined to conservation”.

Human intervention is pushing tigers to the brink. Abhay feels it’s time we did all we can to protect it. If the tiger goes extinct, it will be so because of humans, he says. The onus is therefore on us. If we do not act, future generations might never get to see the animal. “We might only be able to tell our grandchildren what the tiger looked like. It will become part of a fairytale,” he adds.

Would he be interested in weaving wildlife conservation into a movie? “I would love to. It will make for a great story. I’ve always wanted to make a movie in the space,” says Abhay. But he also feels that the subject should he handled with care. “It is a serious subject. You shouldn’t do it to cash in on it, glamorise, or trivialise it.”

Where Tigers Rule includes programmes such as Swamp Tiger that documents the lives of the Bengal tigers of the Sunderbans; Tigers Next Door that follows tigress Sita and her cubs in their natural habitat in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh; and India — Kingdom of The Tiger that traces the life of hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett. Others in the line-up include Living With Tigers and Tiger, Hunting For A Home. The programme will feature wildlife experts such as Alphonse Roy, Valmik Thapar, Saba Douglas Hamilton, Dave Salmoni, Simon King, John Varty and Niall McCann.

(Where Tigers Rule will air at 8 p.m. from March 1 to 31)