Tiger count rises 33% in India, but the roar is uneven across states3 min read . Updated: 30 Jul 2019, 12:09 AM IST
- MP had the highest rise of 218 tigers, reaching an estimated 526, followed by Karnataka with 524
- A total of 2,461 individual tigers more than a year old were photo-captured as part of the census
New Delhi: India now has as many as 2,967 tigers in the wild, with more than half of them in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, according to the latest tiger estimation report for 2018, released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
The range for the total tiger population in the wild is 2,603-3,346. The population has increased by nearly 33% since the last census in 2014 when the total estimate was 2,226.
However, this growth has not been uniform across all 18 states where tigers are found. The count has decreased drastically from 46 to 19 in Chhattisgarh. In Odisha, it has been on a continual decline over the years and now stands at 28.
“We have 50 tiger reserves. Not all are doing well. We admit that poaching is a concern. There is a lack of protection and management measures in some areas. Tigers thrive in areas where the prey density, habitat conditions are good; if that does not happen, the numbers will not improve," said Anup Kumar Naik, chief of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
According to officials, the 24% mortality among tigers is due to poaching. Growing conflict with humans is another concern.
“Even for the tiger reserves which are doing well, there will come a time, when they reach their carrying capacity and tigers will move. Our goal is to ensure connectivity to deficient areas so they become viable for tigers to occupy. But for that, the man-animal conflict will have to be tackled," he said.
Madhya Pradesh showed the highest increase of 218 tigers, reaching an estimated 526, followed by Karnataka with 524.
The two states have the highest population of the predator. The numbers have also increased in Uttarakhand (442), Maharashtra (312) and Tamil Nadu (264).
The tiger bearing habitats were divided into five landscape regions—Shivalik-Gangetic plains, Central India and the Eastern Ghats, Western Ghats, North Eastern Hills and Brahmaputra Flood Plains and the Sundarbans.
No tigers were found in Buxa (West Bengal), Dampa (Mizoram) and Palamau (Jharkhand), reserves that had very low numbers in earlier assessments.
According to the government, the total numbers have been increasing at a rate of 6% every year—from 1,411 in 2006 to 2,226 in 2014.
India along with 12 other tiger range countries had committed to doubling the population of tigers in their respective countries by 2022, as part of the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) programme Tx2.
“Nine years ago it was decided in St. Petersburg that the target of doubling the tiger population would be 2022, we in India completed the target 4 years earlier," said Modi after releasing the fourth edition of the census.
“Today, we can proudly say that with nearly 3,000 tigers, India is the safest places for tigers in the world."
A total of 2,461 individual tigers more than a year old were photo-captured as part of the census.
India with 50 tiger reserves in 18 states has over 80% of the global tiger population which stands at 3,159.
The future of tigers as a species, as well as the success of the Global Tiger Recovery Plan thus depends on India’s success.
The population estimates were prepared by collecting field data on tiger sign intensity, prey abundance, human disturbance and habitat characteristics in various forest beats. This was followed by estimates based on camera trap images.
“India has achieved a historic milestone. On Global Tiger Day, we reaffirm our commitment to conserve tiger population in the country. We are doing whatever we can to save and conserve the majestic animal," said Modi calling upon heads of other countries to form an alliance of global leaders to eliminate the demand for illegal poaching in Asia.
The extensive exercise is considered to be the world’s largest wildlife survey. It covered 381,000 sq. km of forested habitats in 18 states where tigers are found in India. A foot survey of 5.22 lakh km was done for tiger signs and prey abundance estimation.
A total of 26,838 camera traps resulted in 34.8 million photographs of wildlife, of which 76,651 were of tigers and 51,777 of leopards.