Boom In The Big Cat Population

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According to George Santayana, “The earth has music for those who listen.” The roar of a tiger is the music of jungle and this music would be heard more. National Tiger Conservation Authority has released the report, titled “Status of Tigers in India, 2014”. According to the report, there has been  a 30 percent increase in big cat population in four years. The census, held in 2014, reveals a sharp increase in tigers’ population from 1,706 in 2010 to 2,226 in 2014. Nearly one-third of the country’s total population of tigers is found in the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the Western Ghats landscape. The highest number of tigers is recorded in the state of Karnataka.

Other major findings of the report are:

  • A total of 3,78,118km2  of forests in 18 tiger states were surveyed;
  • A double sampling approach was used to estimate the distribution and abundance of tigers in India;
  • Camera-trap and DNA sampling methods were used in the census;
  • 1,540 individual tigers were photographed;
  • 1,950 tigers were estimated from the camera-trap areas alone;
  • Increase in the tiger population in the states of Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the past four years, while it has decreased in Odisha and Jharkhand.
  • In the Shivalik-Gangetic plain landscape complex, which covers the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, nearly 485 tigers are found;
  • In the Central Indian Landscape Complex and Eastern Ghats Landscape Complex, which covers the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkhand and Rajasthan, nearly 688 tigers have been recorded;
  • In the Western Ghats Landscape complex and the North Eastern hills and Brahmaputra flood plains, 776 and 277 tigers are found respectively.

Tigers’ population has increased in and around tiger reserves where existing habitat contiguity has permitted dispersing tigers to establish territories and reproduce. According to Yadvendra Jhala, wildlife biologist at Dehradun’s Wildlife Institute of India, “Infrastructure development has to be smart and green to manage the population of tigers.” He said that the biggest conservation challenge was to strengthen forest corridors to enable movement of tigers across forests.

I personally believe, more and more forest areas should be brought under hard-core surveillance, reservation and protection. “India’s outstanding result demonstrates that tigers can recover and thrive, even in densely populated countries with a focus on economic growth—as long as there is political will and the commitment to get results,” said Dr. Barney Long, Director of Species Conservation at the World Wide Fund for Nature-USA (WWF). Since the primary goals of the NDA government are economic growth and development, many environmentalists and nature-lovers fear forests would degrade and human-animal conflicts would rise. Therefore, suggestions and recommendations have come up to pursue eco-friendly development for the betterment of society and fauna at large.

Government must take initiatives to upgrade the degraded quality of certain forest reserves. Since tigers form the top level of animal food chain, this indicates that, if their population would decline, the entire food chain would be in trouble. Policy-makers must adopt “go-green” methodology to save tigers and develop the economy at the same time.

Conservation of any specie is a mighty project. Being the most beautiful and magnificent creatures in the world, tigers deserve our attention. Forest clearing for illegal logging and agricultural cash crops destroy tiger habitat and is a major threat to their survival. Demand for tiger skin for medicinal purposes has become a major threat for their population.

Anti-poaching campaigns must be launched by Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), environment’s care-takers and society at large. Awareness should be created about the dangers and threats faced by tigers. When people will learn more about them, they will try harder to protect them. Pressure on natural resources should be reduced. Demand for forest products, such as, timber and rubber, should be minimised.

Mother-nature has given so much to us and taken so little. Protection of her every child becomes a major responsibility of all. It should be understood that tiger is the “king” of jungle and its protection would protect the entire animal kingdom. Tiger is our national pride. In order to conserve tiger population, we must act locally and think globally.

Riya Kakkar

Image Source: [https://www.flickr.com/photos/tryburn/3639572623/]