India's Tiger Population on the Rise: How Conservation Efforts are Making a Difference
India is home to around 70% of the world’s tigers, making it a critical country for tiger conservation efforts. The tiger population in India has seen a steady increase in recent years due to a concerted effort by the government and conservationists. In this blog, we will discuss the current population of tigers in India, the reasons for the decline in tiger population, the Project Tiger initiative, and the census of tiger population.
The Tiger in India
There were more than 100,000 wild tigers in existence a hundred years ago. After a century, there is a considerable decline in numbers of these felines because of habitat loss, retaliatory killings and poaching. As per census of 2019, India has increased its population of wild tigers to 2,967. The numbers are on the rise due to the ongoing conservation efforts of organizations including the Golbal Tiger Forum. In India, there are around 50 tiger reserves which support 70 percent of the tigers living currently living in the wild making it the ideal place to plan a wildlife and tiger safari.
Current Population of Tigers in India
According to the latest census, conducted in 2018-19, India has an estimated 2,967 tigers in the wild, a 30% increase from the country’s last census recordings four years ago. This is a significant increase from the 2006-07 census, which estimated the tiger population at 1,411. The latest census was conducted using advanced technology, including 26000 camera traps and almost 350,000 images and DNA samples, analysed by computer programmes to identify individual creatures. The census covered 88,000 square kilometres of forested habitat across 20 states.
India and 12 other nations signed the St. Petersburg Declaration in response to the world’s tiger population reaching an all-time low in 2010, promising to increase their tiger numbers by 2022 as part of the Global Tiger Recovery Project. According to the most recent data, India has succeeded in its goal, more than doubling its population from a low of 1,411 in 2006.
The increase in the tiger population in India is a testament to the efforts of the Indian government and conservationists, who have worked tirelessly to protect the tiger’s natural habitat and prevent poaching.
Reasons for the Decline in Tiger Population
Tigers were once found across much of Asia, from Turkey to eastern Russia, and as far south as the Indonesian island of Bali. However, today, tigers are found in only 13 countries, and their numbers are dwindling. The primary reasons for the decline in tiger population are habitat loss and poaching.
Habitat loss is the biggest threat to tigers. With the increase in human population, the demand for land and resources has also increased, leading to deforestation and fragmentation of tiger habitats. This has led to a decrease in prey species, which is the main source of food for tigers. As a result, tigers are forced to move out of their natural habitat, putting them in conflict with humans.
Poaching is another significant threat to tigers. Tiger parts, such as bones, skins, and organs, are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine and as a status symbol. Poaching of tigers is a lucrative business, and many poachers are part of organized crime syndicates that smuggle tiger parts across international borders.
Tiger Conservation in India
India has miraculously managed to double its wild tiger population in just twelve years after the commitment called TX2, signed in 2010 by all countries home to wild tigers! And the numbers keep growing! Moreover, Russia, China, and Bhutan have made considerable progress, and Nepal has managed to more than double its tiger population. Nonetheless, India has the greatest tiger population, making this development particularly significant. India has achieved this accomplishment thanks in part to improved habitat conservation, the increase of protected areas, and a crackdown on poaching. In fact, several parks are having to relocate their tigers. The reason for this is that the populations have gotten too big to support themselves.
On April 1st, 1973, the Indian government introduced “Project Tiger” to encourage tiger conservation, protect tigers and their habitats. The largest programme of its kind in the world, Project Tiger aims to protect endangered animals. The project aims to ensure a viable population of tigers in their natural habitats and to preserve areas of biological importance as a national heritage for the benefit of the people of India.
The project initially covered nine tiger reserves across India, covering an area of 16,339 square kilometres. The project has since been expanded to cover 50 tiger reserves across 18 states, covering an area of 72,749 square kilometres.
Under Project Tiger, tiger reserves are managed as protected areas, where all human activities are regulated to ensure the conservation of tigers and their habitats. This includes measures to control poaching, habitat management, and ecotourism.
The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act of 2006, an amendment to the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, added enabling provisions to reflect the urgency of the situation, converting Project Tiger into a statutory authority (NTCA). The NTCA provides a statutory foundation for tiger reserve protection in addition to increased institutional mechanisms for the protection of environmentally sensitive areas and endangered species, addressing both the ecological and administrative concerns for tiger conservation. The Authority not only appoints motivated and trained personnel as Field Directors of tiger reserves, but also guarantees that the rules for tiger conservation are enforced and that compliance with those rules is being monitored.
The NTCA was likewise established on September 4, 2006, the same day that the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006, went into effect.
The success of Project Tiger is evident in the increase in tiger population in India. The project has also led to the conservation of other wildlife species, including elephants, leopards, and rhinoceros.
Tiger Census (Counting of Tigers)
Census of tiger population in India is conducted every four years by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). The census is a comprehensive exercise that involves the use of advanced technology, including camera traps, DNA analysis, and satellite imagery, to estimate the tiger population.
The census is conducted in a three-step process. The first step involves creating a database of all the tigers in the reserve. This is done by collecting photographic evidence of individual tigers, which is then analyzed using specialized software to identify individual tigers based on their unique stripe patterns.
Role of conservation efforts in the increase of tiger numbers.
1,411 tigers were estimated to be left in the country according to the inaugural Tiger Census of 2006. The results were more reliable because the census techniques employed were technology-based.
According to the findings, there are 1,411 adult and sub-adult tigers and 1,165 to 1,657 adult tigers in total. The 2006 Census sparked additional controversy and discussion on tiger conservation. Since then, numerous protection measures have been taken.
The number of tigers steadily grew over the following ten years because of a renewed commitment to their conservation. There was estimated 2,226 Bengal tigers in India from the 2014 Tiger Census.
The state with the greatest concentration of tigers was Karnataka. According to the 2014 tiger census, there were 408 tigers officially documented in the state.
Yet in the 2018 Tiger Census, Madhya Pradesh grabbed the title of Tiger State of India with 526 Tigers, while Karnataka and Uttrakhand came in second and third with 524 and 442 Tigers, respectively.
According to the 2018 Tiger Census, there are 2,967 total tigers, which is a 33% increase over the 2014 Census and more than twice as many as there were in 2006.
Currently, Project Tiger manages 50 tiger reserves covering 72,749 sq. km. of natural space in an endeavour to protect the Royal Bengal Tiger population.
Challenges in conservation of Tiger Population
According to estimates from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2014, there are only 2,200 to 3,200 individual tigers left in the wild, making them an endangered species. Because to habitat loss, poaching, and prey shortage, approximately 93% of the tiger’s historical range has been eradicated. Thirteen countries came together in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2010 under the threat of a world without tigers, and they made the commitment to double the number of wild tigers by the year 2022. But even in protected reserves, everyone, with the exception of India, Nepal, and Bhutan, is fighting to rescue its tigers.
With about two thirds of the world’s tigers, India continues to be the ray of hope. It made 350 crore rupees in investments in tiger protection in 2019, which included relocating villages outside of protected regions. To provide tigers with a safe passageway beneath NH-44, it also constructed the largest animal underpasses in the world. These concrete underpasses, which resemble caves and are located in the ecologically important Kanha-Pench Corridor, are coated with natural soil to preserve the animals’ natural habitat. Surveillance cameras have been installed in the underpasses to record their every move.
According to the government, its efforts were successful. It was declared in July 2021 that India has achieved the St. Petersburg aim when the number of Royal Bengal Tigers doubled from 1,411 in 2006 to 2,967. According to the census’ estimated 2,967 tigers, India is home to 75% of the world’s tigers.
Future of Tiger Conservation
According to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, constructing homes, roads, and railroads all, can coexist with tiger protection. “We reaffirm our commitment towards protecting tigers,” added Modi. “Once the people of India decide to do anything, there is no force that can prevent them from getting the desired results.”
As Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar stated it after Guinness World Records confirmed that the fourth cycle of the All-India Tiger Estimate 2018 is the largest camera trap wildlife census in the world, India’s tigers are a shining symbol of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. There were 26,838 spots where camera traps were set up, and 76,651 tiger images were captured. Stripe-pattern-recognition software was used to identify individuals from those photos.
India has accomplished a lot since the beginning of Project Tiger in 1973. NTCA, or National Tiger Conservation Authority, was founded in 2005. There were nine tiger reserves in 1973; today, there are 50, spread over 18 states. Yet, the story becomes hazy when you analyze the nation’s tiger data. In small reserves that place a high priority on tourism, the animals are isolating themselves more and more. The risks to the cats are great if they leave the parks. The NTCA and specialists are attempting to obtain a more precise count of numbers in particular places and researching ways to make it possible for humans and carnivores to coexist.
Just 25% of the world’s tiger habitat is located in this country, but it is home to roughly 75% of all wild tigers. India’s protected regions have not grown at the same rate as the country’s tiger population, prompting some big cats to seek refuge in places with high human population density. Unfortunately, not just livestock but also humans are killed.
Because of their exceptional tolerance for coexisting with potentially deadly wildlife, rural Indians are exceptional in the world. Ullas Karanth, a tiger expert, states that “you don’t find this in other civilizations.” If something similar occurred in Brazil or Montana, everything would be destroyed the following day.
The tiger is now closely monitored, its ecology and behaviour are researched, and attempts are made to save it and its habitat. There are specific projects underway and specific rules have been set. Balancing conflicting economic interests without jeopardising the integrity of our tiger habitats and corridors is extremely difficult. The way we handle these recent problems will determine the direction of tiger conservation.
The importance of continued conservation efforts to ensure the survival of India’s tigers.
While the increase in India’s tiger population is certainly a cause for celebration, it’s important to remember that conservation efforts must continue in order to ensure the long-term survival of these animals. Habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict are still major threats to tiger populations, and it will take ongoing work and dedication to address these issues. By supporting conservation efforts and raising awareness about the importance of protecting these animals, we can help ensure that India’s tigers continue to thrive for generations to come.