In a country where most of the government’s initiatives do not produce expected results, it is interesting to know that their ‘Protect Tiger’ initiative is going to write a huge success story. As per the data mentioned in the latest tiger census, the population of big cats has reached to 2226 from 1706 in 2010, which is a whopping 30% increase. This significant increase is attributed to streamlined forest management and higher pace of vacating people from core reserve areas.
Environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar said “This is a big achievement for all of us. International communities can take a cue from us for conserving tigers.” Click here for official press release.
The tiger count is conducted annually by government wildlife biologists in collaboration with various non-government organizations. Relying on the data generated by around 9,735 strategically installed cameras across national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India, the government and non-government organizations surveyed over 378,000 sq km in the 18 states.
The tiger population in Bihar has touched the figure of 28 from just eight in the last census; in Karnataka, the population has gone up to 406 from 300; and 340 from 227 in Uttarakhand. On the other hand, the number of big cats has dropped by four each in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and by one in UP.
Yadvendradev Jhala, a senior biologist at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun, said “The latest report suggests that Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha together can further accommodate 1,000 tigers, but in this case a strong prey base would be required.”
According to the survey, the Western Ghats covering four sanctuaries – Bandipur-Mudumalai-Nagarhole-Waynad – in Karnataka and Kerala have 570 tigers. This means in the entire world it is the area with highest concentration of tigers in a single zone.
The authorities successfully completed the tiger count by using camera-captured images and the computer-aided analysis of tiger stripes on the images. In tiger territories, the cameras clicked 1,540 individual tigers. After this, the wildlife scientists employed different mathematical techniques to calculate the minimum number of tigers in those territories. The minimum number that came out was 1,945; in a similar fashion, the maximum figure of 2,491 was calculated. And the median of both the figures suggested that the estimate is 2,226.
Going two centuries ago, the population of big cats in India was 50,000. But due to deforestation and excessive construction of towns, roads and residences, their number was reduced to 1,411 in 2006. Talking about the present scenario, tigers now populate less than 10 per cent of the area they used to thrive upon.
There are many independent wildlife biologists (not associated with the count) who are of a view that main factors that contributed in improving tiger population in India since 2006 are village relocation and anti-poaching efforts.
Honorable minister Javadekar said “India is willing to help countries that have lost all their tigers”. Rajesh Gopal, the head of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, said “Cambodia, where authorities declared tigers extinct in 2010, has hinted towards procuring tigers from India.”
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