Some years back, there was a lot of hue and cry over the number ‘1411’ — it was a grim reminder of the number of tigers left in India’s many wildlife sanctuaries. Everyone seemed to have got concerned over the dwindling numbers — from the National Tiger Conservation Authority to a telecom company which came up with an innovative advertisement and a leading electronic media house that vowed to ‘save our tigers’.
So, today when India’s environment and forests minister Prakash Javdekar released the much-awaited 2014-15 tiger estimation report suggesting a neat 30 per cent increase in the number of tigers in India ( from 1,411 in 2006, to 1,706 in 2010 and 2,226 in 2014), conservationists and wildlife experts were jubilant.
In no time, congratulatory Facebook messages started pouring in, hailing the better management of India’s Tiger Reserves and protected areas over the last decade.
1411 seems to have been buried for good. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-India), this time the estimation methodology was also more rigorous and expanded into areas outside the Tiger Reserves.
The estimation was jointly done by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, state forest departments, the Wildlife Institute of India and conservation organisations including WWF-India, CWS, ATREE, Aaranyak, WRCS and WCT. It covered 18 states and more than 300,000 sq km. A total of 1,540 individual tigers were identified through images collected from 9,735 camera trap locations across India’s tiger landscapes.
Tiger population has reportedly increased in several states like Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerel. “Because of the extensive survey effort and camera trap results, which identified nearly 70% of the estimated tiger number; these figures are most accurate ever”, the sources said.
Status of Tigers in India, 2014 report, published by the National Tiger Conservation Authority also highlights that the future of tigers in India depends on maintaining inviolate core habitats for breeding tiger populations, habitat connectivity and protection from poaching of tigers and their prey. Secretary General & CEO of WWF-India Ravi Singh says the results confirm that more than half of the world’s tigers are now in India.