War of the springing tiger: Big cats’ numbers may double by 2020
Despite several constraints like infrastructural development issues, India is on its way to double its tiger population in 2022 from 1,411 in 2010 as resolved during the St Petersburg declaration in 2010. India has around 70 per cent i.e. 2,226 of the world’s tiger population. The latest numbers will be known by May end this year when results of fourth cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation, 2018, is likely to be declared.
Neighbouring Nepal, with an estimated 235 wild tigers, too seems to be progressing well to achieve its goal by the due target date as set by the 13 tiger range countries in Russia.
However, most of the other countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, which have initiated the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) are either still struggling hard to up the numbers. Countries like Cambodia don’t even have a single tiger.
However, what is bothering the conservationists in India is that 22 per cent of the total striped cats in India are roaming outside the tiger reserves, exposed to poachers and man-animal conflicts among others.
In 2018, nearly half of the total tiger deaths — 49 to be precise — were outside tiger reserves in the States like Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh due to urbanisation and agricultural expansion.
Besides, poaching remains a cause of concern inside the tiger reserves too. Little wonder, for the third straight year, the number of tiger deaths in India has crossed the 100-figure mark.
Underscoring the need for protection of the big cats, Union Environment Minister Dr Harshvardhan at an event here after releasing the report India Tiger Action Plan said conservation of tigers is a duty which has to be meticulously pursued and more innovative ways need to be devised so that targets adopted can be bettered.
He was speaking at the two days conference starting Monday here to discuss the status of the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP), initiated in St Petersburg, Russia with an aim to double the number of tigers by 2022. China, which is facing flak for allowing breeding of captive tiger farms did not attend the meeting.
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) Member Secretary Anup Kumar Nayak talked about challenges and gaps in tiger conservation pointing out that at present, India has 50 tiger reserves in 18 States which account for about 2.21 per cent of the country’s geographical area.
Stressing on improved and contiguous habitats for the long-term survival of the species which has highest degree of protection under India’s wildlife laws, Nayak said five new tiger reserves have been notified which shall increase inviolate area for focused tiger conservation by 2310.73 square kilometres.
Rajesh Gopal, Global Tiger Fund (GTF) head, said tiger recover is very fast if appropriate prey-base and protection measures are initiated. He said champions are needed for revival of this iconic species which is an indicator of vibrant bio-diversity and helps in conserving ecosystem.
Sejal Worah from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said tiger dispersing outside the reserves can be protected with the help of community.
Deputy DG of Nepal Environment Ministry Gopal Prakash Bhattarai said his country had 121 tigers in 2009 which has now increased to 235 in 2018 because of various protection measures particularly with the help of army and community support.
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