[Answered] While we celebrate the recovery of tiger populations only by looking at numbers, we must not lose sight of other factors that are critical to their continued survival. Evaluate the statement.  

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some achievements of India in Tiger Conservation. Also, write some other factors critical for their survival.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Tiger is a unique animal which plays a pivotal role in the health and diversity of an ecosystem. It is a top predator which is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates (primarily large mammals) in check. Tigers are globally listed as “Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Achievements of India in Tiger Conservation:

  • India has achieved a remarkable feat by doubling the tiger population four years ahead of its goal.
  • Conservation Assured |Tiger Standards (CA|TS) accreditation has already been awarded to 14 tiger reserves in India.
  • India has successfully translocated a tiger in the western part of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve. Similar reintroduction has been planned for Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
  • India is the land of royal tigers and current tiger population stands at 2967 which is 70 percent of the global tiger population.
  • Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers at 526,closely followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442).

Factors critical for their continued survival:

  • Genetic drift: Small and isolated populations face a high probability of extinction. This is because small populations are subject to random events. These events may cause them to lose advantageous genetic variants, cause inbreeding depression, and reduced survival. E.g. Ranthambore tiger reserve show inbreeding.
  • Isolation: Fencing tiger reserves and isolating them resulted in high extinction. for instance, widening of certain highways, would make them barriers, thereby increasing extinction substantially.
  • The presence of built-up areas and high traffic roads greatly impeded tiger movement. E.g. in the central Indian tiger landscape
  • 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.
  • 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.

Way forward:

  • Special attention is needed for populations that are becoming isolated and facing the genetic consequences of isolation.
  • The novel genome sequencing technology provides an opportunity to understand tigers much better in the context of their conservation.
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