Status of Tiger Population in India:
- According to 2014 Tiger Census by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, India’s tiger population stood at 2,226 in 2014 as against 1706 in 2010- an increment of 30%.
- India represents 70% of the global population of tigers
- Karnataka has the highest number of population of tigers in India, followed by Uttarkhand and Madhya Pradesh
- The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in its 2018 report, declared Jim Corbett National park has the maximum number of tiger- 215
- According to the latest estimations by NTCA, Orang tiger reserve in Assam has the highest tiger density in India- 35.44 per 100sq.km
Note: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body of the Ministry, with an overarching supervisory / coordination role, performing functions as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Threats to Tiger Population in India:
- Habitat loss: Large-scale habitat destruction due to road networks, hydel projects, expansion of agriculture and livestock is a major long term threat to dwindling tiger population in India.
- Loss of Prey Species: Loss of forest quality in terms of prey biomass is a major issue affecting survival of tigers in India.
- Loss of reproduction: Loss of reproduction owing to disturbance on account of heavily used infrastructure like highways, etc. is a major concern.
- Human-animal Conflict: As tigers continue to lose their habitat and prey species, they are increasingly coming into conflict with humans as they attack domestic animals. They are often killed in retaliation by villagers.
- Poaching and illegal trade:
- Poaching is the largest immediate threat to tiger population in India. According to government sources, between 2014 and 2016, there was a 63 per cent rise in cases of poaching and confiscation of tiger parts in India.
- Of India’s 21 states with tiger reserves, 5 states witnessed a rise in poaching cases between 2014 and 2016- Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Bihar.
- Project Tiger was launched in 1973 by the government of India, based on the recommendations of a Special Task Force of the Indian Board for Wildlife.
- Initially, the project included nine Tiger reserves; however the number of tiger reserves at present stands at 50.
- Limit factors that leads to reduction of tiger habitats and to mitigate them by suitable management.
- To ensure a viable population of tigers for economic, scientific, cultural, aesthetic and ecological values.
- Tiger Reserves are protected areas established under the Project Tiger. The reserves aims at conserving the habitat to ensure a viable population of the tigers along with their prey base in their habitat.
- The amendment to the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 in 2006 defined “core” and “buffer” areas of a tiger reserve.
- Core: critical or inviolate area and later
- Peripheral area/ Buffer: It seeks to foster coexistence with local people for safeguarding the integrity of the core.
- It is mandatory to have a Tiger Conservation Plan for each Tiger Reserve for ensuring the protection of tiger reserves and the livelihood and other interests of the people living in tiger bearing forests or tiger reserves.
Issues and Challenges in tiger conservation:
- Funding: A major issue with Project Tiger has been funding- Funds received by a majority of parks are usually inadequate and delayed. As a result, maintenance works, protection and habitat management operations are often compromised.
- Human resource: Project Tiger National Parks also suffer from serious staff problems. Most of these problems are associated with inadequate number of Forest Guards.
- Infrastructure: Forest Guards and Range Officers often lack wireless equipment, jeeps, arms and ammunition and other anti-poaching equipments.
- Protection outside Reserves: Tiger conservation outside protected areas is a major concern as when a tiger leaves the reserve, it does not have nearly the same protection from poachers.
- Relocation from Tiger Reserves: Relocation of families from the core area of the tiger reserve and minimising human domination in buffer zones is of paramount importance. However, relocation has been strongly opposed by locals despite re-location schemes.
- Tiger population estimation:A University of Oxford research paper has disputed the methodology of tiger census in India. According to it, the method is flawed as it involves the use of camera trapping over a small area for collection of data, and then extrapolates the data over a larger area using evidence like paw-marks.
7.Infrastructure Projects: One of the biggest threat to India’s tiger population comes from the infrastructure development projects. For example: the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project, is estimated to submerge a large part of the Panna tiger reserve in northern Madhya Pradesh.
8.Tourism: Wildlife activists often express concerns over the exploitation of reserves for tourism. While tourism could be a key source of funds for reserves, it runs the risk of overriding conservation efforts.
- The flow of funds in Project Tiger needs to be streamlined.
- It is important to address human resource crunch by increasing recruitment and imparting better training.
- It is important to improve ground-level infrastructure in forests -vehicles for patrolling, staff quarters with basic facilities, and arms for forest guards.
- It is important to provide incentives to local people for conserving forests along tiger corridors and providing subsidised LPG connections to people to reduce dependence on timber from the forest.
- It is important to relocate villages in tiger reserves. The Shyamaprasad Mukherjee Jan Vikas Scheme which is helping relocate villages, situated in tiger corridors in Maharashtra is a step in right direction.
- Given that one of the biggest challenge to tiger conservation is encroachment upon their habitat, measures should be taken to combat habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation.