7 PM | The big picture on tigers | 8th August, 2019

Context: Growing tiger population

More in News: On 29th July 2019, International Tiger Day, PM Narendra Modi has declared the result of Tiger Census 2018.

Global Tiger Day:

Global Tiger Day was created in 2010 at the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia when all 13 tiger range countries came together for the first time and decided that business-as-usual approaches were not working. They committed to the most ambitious conservation goal set for a single species – to double the number of wild tigers by 2022.

Tiger Population facts from the latest census report:

  • The Total population of Royal Bengal Tiger in India is 2967 as per the Tiger Census 2018, which is more than double of 2006 Tiger Census.
  • As per Tiger Census 2018, Madhya Pradesh became the new Tiger Capital or Tiger State of India with 526 Royal Bengal Tigers. The top 3 Tiger States of India are:
State Tiger Population in the State
Madhya Pradesh 526
Karnataka 524
Uttrakhand 442
  • There are 4 States (M.P., Karnataka, Uttrakhand & Maharashtra) with more than 300 Tigers
  • There are 4 States (Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh) with more than 150 Tigers.
  • Total 8 States with more than 100% Increase in Tiger Population as compared to 2006.
  • Buxa, Dampa and Palamau Tiger Reserves do not have a single Tigers now.
  • No Tigers were found in Mizoram state.
  • Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh and Periyar National Park in Kerala are the top-rated Tiger Reserves in India.

Tiger census in India:

Every 4 year the National Tiger Conservation Authority conducts a tiger census across India to figure out the Royal Bengal Tiger population in India.

National Tiger Conservation Authority:

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
  • It was constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation,
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority has been fulfilling its mandate within the ambit of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation in the country by retaining an oversight through advisories/normative guidelines, based on appraisal of tiger status, ongoing conservation initiatives and recommendations of specially constituted Committees.
  • ‘Project Tiger’ is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the ‘Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change’, providing funding support to tiger range States, for in-situ conservation of tigers in designated tiger reserves, and has put the endangered tiger on an assured path of recovery by saving it from extinction, as revealed by the recent findings of the All India tiger estimation using the refined methodology.

Tiger Reserves in India:

  • There are 50 Tiger Reserves in India.
  • The oldest tiger reserve is Corbett Tiger Reserve which was declared in the year 1973 under ‘Project Tiger‘
  • Kamlang Tiger Reserve is the newest Tiger Reserve of India declared in the year 2018.
  • Madhya Pradesh is the state with the maximum number of Tiger Reserves in India. There are 6 tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh.
    • Pench Tiger Reserve
    • Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
    • Kanha Tiger Reserve
    • Satpura Tiger Reserve
    • Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve
    • Panna Tiger Reserve

Challenges:

  • There has been a 20% decline in areas occupied by tigers in 2014 to today, although tigers have moved into some new areas (some 8% of their Indian range is new).
  • Relaxations in norms to allow for a widening of highway and railway networks are the new threats, adding to the old ones of retaliatory poisoning and poaching.
  • A report rated Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh as the best in terms of good management practices. However, the Pench tiger faces a new threat. The National Highway 7 (NH7), which connects Pench and Kanha tiger reserves, has just been widened. 
  • Apart from highways, railway and irrigation projects are coming up in tiger reserves. For example, the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project will submerge 100 sq. km of Panna Tiger Reserve.

What can be done?

  • Highways and railways should not be expanded to encroach into tiger areas.
  • Irrigation projects should also be avoided in the areas.
  • Cost-benefit analyses need to take into account the needs of wild animals. 

Conclusion: At the moment, highways are not even able to do away with barriers, and it is assumed that tigers can swim through dam-submerged areas. So, to live, tigers are being made to swim across dams, cross highways, dash across railway lines, not eat livestock, and avoid people. The numbers are definitely a reason to cheer for India, but still government need to make clear policies that do not hamper the growth of the nation and at the same time preserve the habitat of the wildlife.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-big-picture-on-tigers/article28872115.ece

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