Amongst the recent top biodiversity stories are the release of the national estimate of tigers, and revelations of the possible causes of the mass deaths of gharials in central India. Both stories point not only to the failure of our wildlife conservation strategies, but to the dangers of a path to ‘development’ that fragments and poisons nature. Both are indicators of the increasing collapse of ecological systems that will ultimately backfire on humans themselves - unless we do something drastically different, and dramatically fast.