Tiger conservation: Strides and hurdles

On International Tiger Day( July 29), Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed that the government is committed to ensuring safe habitats for tigers and nurturing tiger- friendly ecosystems in India, home to over 70% of the world’s tiger population.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Pexels.com

The last tiger census (2018) pegged the big cat’s population at 2967, marking an increase of about 30% compared to the 2014 report ( 2226). In 2010, India had 1706 tigers, while in 2006 it was 1411. India’s tiger conservation journey started in 1973 with Project Tiger with nine reserves; today, it has 50 tiger reserves in 18 states.

The steady growth in the number of tigers and reserves happened because of state support; vigilance and conservation efforts by the forest department, especially its frontline staff; and the involvement of local communities that help secure forests and participate in ecotourism activities in many of the popular and revenue – generating tiger reserves.

While increased protection has encouraged tigers to breed, it has also led to migration from the safety of reserves. Once they leave the park, big cats encounter a different world.

The Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves 2018 report shows that at least half of the 50 tiger reserves are facing threats from linear infrastructure ( roads, highways, and railway lines), fragmented forest corridors, poaching, pressure of human – wildlife conflict, mining, improper garbage disposal, and pollution.

About 20% of the reserves have unsustainable pressure from pilgrims visiting temples inside them.

India has made progress, but must remain acutely conscious of the need for the need for the tiger conservation.