INDIA'S TIGER POPULATION GROWS BY 30% OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS
As per the latest tiger census carried out by the government in association with several wildlife organizations, India is home to 2,226 wild tigers, a jump of 30 percent from the last survey that was concluded in 2010. With the numbers of the magnificent stripped felines being reduced to 1,411 way back in 2008, the rise in the figures is in many ways a testimonial to the sustained efforts of conservationists, tiger experts, government officials and wildlife enthusiasts in the last few years. However, a lion share of credit goes to the security guards who put their own lives at risk to protect our national animals from hunters and poachers. The best part is that the results of the census are fool-proof since the whole exercise has been conducted with some of the most modern methods like camera trapping and collection of paw marks and droppings.
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Some of the biggest positives from this survey are as follows:
- India is home to nearly 70 percent of the world's wild tiger population. Other nations with significant feline numbers include Bangladesh, Malaysia, Russia and Indonesia.
- In the country, Karnataka leads other states with a tiger population in excess of 400, followed by Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Most importantly, the national animal has been spotted in over 20 Indian states, showing that the favorable habitat for these beasts is found across the country.
- In another study entitled 'Economic Valuation of Tiger Reserves', researchers have found that six tiger reserves - Corbett, Kanha, Kaziranga, Periyar, Ranthambore and Sundarbans contribute a staggering Rs 1,49,000 crores to the Indian economy. This first of its kind survey, will hopeful help people realize the benefits of saving our forests and the creatures that inhabit them.
- More importantly, as per the reports, India can add up to 1,500 more tigers to the existing numbers. This is perhaps the most important take away from the entire exercise and should be a source of inspiration for people involved in tiger conservation to keep up their good work.
- Lastly, speaking at the press conference, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that his government was open to give a few of the big cats to the countries that want to revive their tiger numbers. This, in my opinion is excellent news since it is our moral duty to do our bit in helping the stripped felines survive, keeping politics away from such a noble cause. Of course, before doing that, we need to make sure that the countries that we are sending our tigers are in a position to protect them.
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At the same time, we cannot afford to drop our guard, the reasons being as follows:
- As per the census, India lost 83 tigers to poachers in the last four years. Besides, another 109 feline deaths were termed as 'unexplained'. This clearly shows that there is still a lot we can do in saving our big cats.
- We still do not have the green corridors connecting major tiger reserves in the country that are crucial in maintaining the gene pool by preventing inbreeding amongst closely related individuals. This task of setting up forests that connect big cat habitat should be taken up with utmost priority.
- Lastly, the numbers of Black Tiger - a sub-species of Bengal Tigers with much darker black stripes has come down from 32 in 2010 to 28 now. These felines are only found in Simlipal and Santakosia reserves in Odisha.