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Which is more fearsome: tigers or cars?

August 1, 2017 Written by a HealthBridge guest blogger Bangladesh, Cars, Cities, Dhaka, Livable Cities Post a comment!

By Aparajita Chakraborty, student at Asian University for Women and intern at Institute of Wellbeing (Bangladesh)

On 29 July we celebrate International Tiger Day in Dhaka. This raises the question: how would you prefer to die, by tiger attack or by poison? Imagine a tiger attacking you in the jungle; now imagine being slowly poisoned every day. You can avoid the tiger attack by avoiding the jungle but alas, you can’t avoid poison: you are taking it in every day in the form of vehicle exhaust created by all the cars in our cities. Ah, you prefer to die (or be maimed) quickly? That’s easy: car accidents are an easy way to do that!

1.3 million deaths a year

The World Health Organization says that 1.3 million people die every year by car accidents. How many people do you know who have died, or were seriously injured, in such accidents? Most of us have lost someone – a parent, sibling, friend or child – in a vehicle accident. What is regrettable is that we have normalized the event. Instead of being aware of the deadly effects caused by cars, we are welcoming more and more of them into our cities and our lives.

We are harming not only ourselves but also tigers – and all kinds of other creatures – by using cars. They harm the environment through all the resources needed in their production, and by emitting exhaust when we drive them. We pave over natural areas to make roads for vehicles. And when a car is disposed of, it generates a lot of waste. All that damage adds up. When we destroy forests, gone is the habitat for tigers. Cars destroy the ecological balance.

Why fear tigers more than cars?

In Bangladesh, less than one person is killed by a tiger attack yearly, while thousands are killed on our roads. Despite this substantial gap, we fear tigers more than we fear cars. We are destroying tigers while we are inviting cars into our home and daily lives. If we were sensible, we would avoid the habitat of tigers – and keep cars out of ours.

The Institute of Wellbeing (IWB) organized a program at Dhaka University on 29 July in order to raise awareness of our illogical attitudes towards tigers and cars. A street drama was presented by students of BRAC University and Asian University for Women who are working at IWB as interns. The drama showed how people are destroying their own habitat by using cars, while tigers rarely harm us.

The drama took place in the street in order to raise awareness among the general public. It rhetorically suggested that if tigers created a transport system, they would be far more sensible about it than people: they would prioritize trams, cycle rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians, while banning cars. We hope that the drama, and our other activities, will help people realize that we should love tigers… and hate cars.

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