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There is good news. India’s total tiger count is back up—to nearly 3,000. According to the All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018, the country has 2,967 of these big cats, a rise of 33% over the figure found in the previous census of 2014.

Conservationists and the government alike can pat themselves on the back for this. And we should be thankful. Since India is home to almost 70 % of the world tiger population, it is our responsibility to save the species from extinction.

According to the report, the factors that have helped raise the tiger count include measures taken to combat organized poachers, the deployment of a special tiger force, an increase in tiger habitat areas, and the relocation of villages away from tiger reserves. While India may have achieved its target under the Global Tiger Recovery Program, launched with the aim of doubling the global tiger population by 2022, a few years ahead of schedule, the tiger’s survival is still not a done deal. The fast reducing forest cover still presents a threat to the wild cat.

Under the current green cover, habitats reach tiger-saturation points far too early. If tigers are to survive, they need free space—and lots of it.

In other words, a tiger population of 3,000 represents a reprieve, at best. The country needs several thousand more of them before we see a truly significant rise in the odds that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will get to see the animal in the wild. Saving a species is hard work.

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