Union Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar said while the population of tigers faced a threat globally, India recorded an increase to the tune of 30.5 percent in the recent national estimation.
“The tiger population has gone up from 1,706 to 2,226 tigers…We are proud of our efforts. This corresponds to a little over 30 percent increase,” Javadekar said.
He was releasing the tiger estimation report at the inaugural session of the meeting of field directors and chief wildlife wardens on best practices and wildlife crime monitoring systems organised by National Tiger Conservation Authority.
The report – All India Tiger Estimation 2014 – indicated a considerable jump in India’s tiger population. In a consistent escalation in the last decade, the numbers scaled from 1,411 in 2006 to 1,706 in 2010 and 2,226 in 2014.
“At a time when the global tiger population is under threat, it is heartening that India’s tiger numbers are increasing. This was not the situation a decade ago,” the minister said.
A total of 3,78,118 sq km of forest area in 18 tiger states was surveyed with Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala registering an improvement in tiger population, said an official statement.
As many as 1,540 individual tigers were identified through images collected from 9,735 camera trap locations across the country’s tiger landscapes.
Because of the extensive survey effort and camera trap results collected form 43 tiger reserves as well as national parks, which identified nearly 70 percent of the estimated tiger number, these figures are most accurate ever, said director Dipankar Ghose, Species and Landscapes at World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) India, a partner in the survey.
Feeling proud of rising to the challenge of saving the tiger, Javadekar said India turned the situation around and was now “ready to exchange tigers and share our good practices with other countries”.
Crediting effective tiger habitat management and community participation to streamline their conservation, Javadekar attributed the improved result to the success of official measures like Special Tiger Protection Force, Special Programme for Orphan Tiger cubs, efforts to control poaching, and initiatives to minimize human-animal conflict and encroachment.
He said India was willing to donate tiger cubs to the international community and contribute to the global effort to save the tiger.
Lauding the Tiger Reserves Management and Project Tiger Team for the achievement, Javadekar said India’s good practices could be adopted and practiced by the international community as a step towards sustainable forest management.
Ghose said the number 2,226 is an estimation premised on the statistical calculation of the data available, while the real count may lie anywhere between 1,945 and 2,491.
He credited the front line workers for efficient tiger reserve management as well as the strong political will at the centre and the state that was a “tremendous support” in ensuring “more than half of the world’s tiger population was in India”.
However, there was “no room for complacency” he cautioned. “The tough task is to maintain that lead… We need to ensure that they (tigers) are safe for posterity.”