Published On : Tue, Jan 20th, 2015

Tigers thriving in Indian forests – numbers go up dramatically

Tiger on bhadrawati road

After the continued disheartening decline of tiger populations in the country there is good news at last. The number of tigers in India has seen a sharp rise in the last seven years rising from 1411 to 2226. This news was shared by the Environment Ministry.

“India is now home to 70 per cent of the world’s tigers,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday.

Karnataka has the most number of tigers at 406. Uttarakhand has 340 tigers, Tamil Nadu has 229, Madhya Pradesh has 208, Maharashtra has 190 and the Sundarbans in Bengal has 76 tigers.

The Tiger Census 2008 report had classified the tiger occupied forests in India into 6 landscape complexes; namely (a) Shivalik-Gangetic Plains, (b) Central Indian Landscape Complex (c) Eastern Ghats, (d) Western Ghats, (e) North-Eastern Hills and Bhramaputra Plains, and (f) Sunderbans.

India has struggled to stop the rapid decline of its big cat population in the face of poachers, international smuggling networks and loss of habitat. Large development projects, such as mining, thermal and hydroelectric dams, are also taking their toll on the tiger’s habitat. In the past ten years, thousands of square kilometres of forest land have been diverted and destroyed to facilitate such projects. Though mostly outside the protected network, the loss of this vital habitat will have serious repercussions on tiger conservation in India.

From an estimated 100,000 tigers at the beginning of the 20th century, India saw the numbers dropping to 1411 in 2008. Most of the animals were killed by poachers who sell the carcasses for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

In 2004, environmentalists and forest officials were shocked when not a single tiger was to be found at the Sariska wildlife reserve in Rajasthan, a top destination for big cat watchers. It was seen as the biggest crisis in India’s conservation history and led to a massive drive that included arming forest guards at various reserves to fight poachers.But probably the most effective way to implement tiger conservation action in India today is to enhance NGO participation. There are a number of dedicated organizations that are effectively involved in hands-on tiger conservation. They keep the issue energized on a national level and tenaciously try to increase political will to secure the tiger’s future. The Indian conservation and scientific community is now a proven force. It needs to be strengthened.