Tiger Census 2022 (Specials)
Ecology and Environment
14th Apr, 2023
The tiger population numbers were made public by Prime Minister, at an event to mark the International Big Cat Alliance conference as well as the 50th anniversary of Project Tiger.
Key Findings of Tiger Census, 2022:
- According to the recent findings, India has at least 3,167 tigers in total.
- This is ostensibly an increase since the last census of 2018.
- There were 2,967 tigers recorded in 2018, and 2,226 in 2014.
- Regional upgradation:
- The tiger population has grown the most in the Shivalik hills and Gangetic flood plains, followed by central India, the north eastern hills, the Brahmaputra flood plains, and the Sundarbans.
- There was a decline in the Western Ghats numbers.
Fourth Tiger Census 2018: (The last census)
- The 2018 tiger census uses more technology including a mobile app named “MSTrIPES” for the very first time to store information of the counting
Another primary focus of the Tiger census 2018 is to cover the northeast India that was not included in the previous census.
- For the very first time three neighbouring countries Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh are helping in counting the number of tigers all across India, especially in the region with mutual borders.
- Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of tigers, closely followed by Karnataka and Uttarakhand.
- Chhattisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in tiger population and all other States saw a “positive” increase.
- Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of tigers; Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu registered the maximum improvement.
International Big Cat Alliance conference (IBCA):
- Tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar, and cheetah are the seven main big cats that IBCA will aim to protect and conserve.
- 97 "range" countries, which house these large cats' native habitat, as well as other interested countries, international organisations, etc., are able to join the alliance.
- To dissemination of information on benchmarked practises, capacity building, resources repository, research and development, awareness creation, etc., on the preservation and conservation of big cats.
- Advocacy, partnership, knowledge e-portal, capacity building, eco-tourism, partnerships amongst specialist groups, and fund tapping.
Need for Tiger Conservation:
- Barometers of Ecological health: Tigers are indicators of the ecological wellness of planet earth. Being the dominant predators of the ecosystem, they ensure that the numbers of herbivore like deer are kept balanced
- Umbrella species: Tiger is an umbrella species whose conservation eventually leads to the conservation of many other species such as the ungulates, pollinators and other small animals.
- Carbon storage value: Poaching or killing of large bodied vertebrates such as tigers results in increase of herbivore population, which in turn results in forests getting decimated
- Decline in the tiger population: There is a tremendous decline in the tiger population as compared to the past 100 years and to prevent the deteriorating condition of tigers, it’s important to conserve them.
29th July is observed as International Tiger Day (ITD) to promote the conservation of the striped cat as well as to advocate a global system for protecting its natural habitats.
About Project Tiger:
- Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programmelaunched in April 1973 by the Government of India during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's tenure.
- The project aims at ensuring a viable population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitats, protecting them from extinction, and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage forever represented as close as possible the diversity of ecosystems across the distribution of tigers in the country.
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Schemeof the Ministry of Environment, Forest and climate change.
- The project is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- While it initially covered nine Tiger Reserves(Manas, Palamau, Simlipal, Corbett, Ranthambhore, Kanha, Melghat, Bandipur and Sundarban) spread over 18,278 sq. km, India now has 54 such reserves covering more than 75,000 sq. km (approximately 2.4% of the country’s geographical area).
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA):
- NTCA was established in December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force.
- Administration of the tiger reserves will be in accordance with guidelines of NTCA.
- Tiger reserves in India are administered by field directors as mandated by NTCA.
- No alteration in the boundaries of a tiger reserve shall be made except on a recommendation of the NTCA and the approval of the National Board for Wild Life.
- No State Government shall de-notify a tiger reserve, except in public interest with the approval of the NTCA and the approval of the National Board for Wild Life.
What has enabled this rise in the tiger population?
- Political commitment by the Indian Government during the 1970s wherein several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries were created across India.
- Tiger hunting was banned in the country in 1970.
- In 1973, a national tiger conservation program called Project Tiger was launched in the country.
- Objectives and plan:
- Various tiger reserves were created in the country based on the ‘core-buffer’ strategy.
- Voluntary relocation of local communities from core/critical tiger habitat was undertaken in order to provide safe space for tiger population to regenerate.
- The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was amended in 2006.
- This constituted the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), responsible for implementation of the Project Tiger plan to protect the endangered tigers.
- M-STrIPES, short for Monitoring System for Tigers – Intensive Protection and Ecological Status, a software-based monitoring system was launched across Indian tiger reserves in 2010. Its objective is to strengthen patrolling and surveillance of the endangered Bengal tiger.
- India’s 2018 tiger census has made a world record of being the largest ever camera trap wildlife survey.
- Since 2010, it has been classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
What are the dangers confronting the tiger population in India?
- Illegal poaching – A large number of people across the world take pride in possessing skin, claws, nails, teeth and trophies of the tiger. Every part of the tiger has great market value leading thus promoting hunting by professional poachers, local hunters, trappers, pirates and villagers.
- Man-animal conflict– When tigers come in contact with human settlements local antagonism against tigers often erupts into a serious problem.
- Encroachment– human encroachment of tiger habitats for livestock grazing, infrastructure expansion and farming is a cause of concern.
- Peak carrying capacity– many reserves are approaching the peak of their capacity at sustaining their populations. Depletion of prey in tiger zones is a cause of concern.
- Small core habitats– The core habitats of the tigers in the country are very small. It is only with the addition of buffer zones that protection has become possible. Fragmentation of tiger habitats is a major cause of decreasing tiger population by reducing opportunities for these animals to inbreed. Few tiger reserves don’t have any tigers left. In the northeast parts of the country their population has fallen significantly.
- Infrastructural development– Linear development such as railways and roadways are a serious threat to the tiger habitats.
- Climate change-Due to the global rise in temperatures the tigers along with other species are shifting their belts and migrating upwards towards colder regions.
- Creating tiger corridors where the gene pool exchange would to take place is necessary.
- Corridors have to be built between the existing tiger reserves so that their population can freely move.
- Social upliftment of the communities living in and around the forests must be ensured so that their economic dependence on forest resources becomes lesser.
- Pench Kanha tiger reserve is a good example of development with conservation, where elevated national highway passes through the national park, without disturbing the wildlife.
- Involving the local communities into conservation efforts and sensitizing them about the importance of ecological conservation is the key.
- The tiger conservation approach has to be more dynamic and futuristic by mitigating the effects of climate change on wildlife.