The International Tiger Day came into being after the signing of the Saint Petersburg declaration by 13 tiger range countries in 2010 in Russia.
Kolkata: Every year, thousands of people travel to various parts of the country to have at least a glimpse of probably one of the most beautiful yet elusive animals — the tiger. And while the 2018 tiger census has turned India into the largest and most secure habitat for the Royal Bengal Tiger, here’s a quick look into what is the tiger count in India is according to the last census and why we celebrate World Tiger Day on July 29.
The International Tiger Day came into being after the signing of the Saint Petersburg declaration by 13 tiger range countries in 2010 in Russia. The governments of these tiger range countries had resolved to encourage the conservation, protection of natural habitats and had also aimed to double the number of tigers by 2022.
According to the 2018 Tiger Census report, the total population of Royal Bengal Tigers was 2,967, which is more than double from 2006.
What the 2018 tiger census showed
Tiger population has increased the most in Madhya Pradesh followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and other states. According to the 2018 census, Madhya Pradesh has 526 tigers, which was up from 6 tigers, which was up from 308 in 2014. In Maharashtra, there were 312 tigers spotted in the census which was up from 190 in 2014.
According to the 2006 census report, Telangana had no tiger population at all. Compared to that, the 2018 census report pegged the figure at 26. Similarly, while Arunachal Pradesh had 14 tigers during the 2006 census, by 2010 it had dropped to zero but in the 2018 survey, it reached 29.
While we wait for the latest survey, the last census also showed encouraging figures for the Sundarbans in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Rajasthan.
Reasons behind the increase in tiger population
Project Tiger: It was introduced by the Government of India in 1973. The main agenda of this statutory body was to promote tiger conservation. While the effort has seen a lot of change in terms of an increase in the number of tigers in India, a statutory authority with legal backing is needed to ensure proper conservation of tigers.
Based on the recommendations of the National Board for Wildlife under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, a task force was constituted to look into the problems of tiger conservation in the country. The duties of the task force entailed:
- Strengthening Project Tiger with statutory and administrative powers
- Creation of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau
- Address the concerns of the local people as well as periodically review the Tiger Project commitments, an annual report should be submitted to the central government before being tabled in Parliament
The statutory authority is called the NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority). NTCA addresses administrative and environmental concerns for tiger conservation. It also provides a statutory basis for the protection of ecologically-sensitive areas and endangered species and for tiger conservation.
According to the All India Tiger Estimation report, the tiger population in the country has increased from 1,411 in 2006 to 2,967 in 2018 and one of the main reasons behind this is the tiger project.
Global Tiger Initiative: The Global Tiger Initiative was launched in 2008 as a global coalition of governments, international organisations, civil society, the conservation and scientific community and the private sector. The main was to save tigers from going extinct. The organisations working together towards the goal are the Global Tiger Initiative Council (GTIC), Global Tiger Forum (GTF) and the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP).
Tiger reserves of India
There are 50 tiger reserves in India. The oldest of which, the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand, was established in 1973 under the auspices of Project Tiger.
While Pench Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and Periyar Sanctuary in Kerala are regarded as the best tiger reserves in the country, Sattyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu has been recorded “maximum improvement” since 2014.
The increase in tiger population has also highlighted the health of the forests. Since tigers are at the top of the food chain, an increase in their numbers means an increase in herbivores and the plants that the herbivores eat. A healthy forest is able to absorb carbon.