Krishna Kumar Vepakomma
India has made significant strides in the conservation and protection of tigers, with the number of wild tigers increasing at a rate of 6% per year, accounting for more than 70% of the world’s wild tiger population. This achievement can be attributed to the cultural reverence that Indians hold towards nature, with protecting wildlife being a significant part of the country’s ethos.The All-India Tiger Estimation, 2022 has revealed recently that India has made significant progress in the conservation of wild tigers, with the population increasing from 1,411 individuals in 2010 to 3,167 in the latest census. This success serves as an inspiration for other countries grappling with similar challenges of wildlife conservation. The latest tiger census estimates that India has at least 3,167 tigers, a remarkable increase since the last census in 2018, when 2,967 tigers were recorded. The Indian government has set up various initiatives, such as “Project Tiger,” “IDWH,” “Tiger Conservation Plan,” “Strengthening of Anti-Poaching Activities,” and “M-STrIPES,” aimed at protecting tigers and their habitats. The Tiger Conservation Plan is a comprehensive strategy that focuses on conserving and managing tiger populations and their habitats, improving tiger conservation efforts, increasing habitat connectivity, and reducing human-tiger conflict. It also emphasizes the importance of community involvement in conservation efforts and the need for effective anti-poaching measures. M-STrIPES is a software-based monitoring system launched by the Indian government’s National Tiger Conservation Authority in 2010 to strengthen patrolling and surveillance of Bengal tigers in Indian reserves. Forest guards use personal digital assistants and GPS devices to capture data on tiger sightings, deaths, wildlife crime, and ecological observations while patrolling. The data is then analyzed in a geographic information system to enhance the effectiveness and spatial coverage of patrols and evaluate human pressure and habitat change. The government’s efforts have led to the establishment of protected areas, anti-poaching measures, habitat restoration, and community involvement in conservation efforts, resulting in a 75% increase in the tiger population in the last 10-12 years. However, habitat loss, human-tiger conflict, and poaching continue to be significant threats to the survival of tigers in India. India has six subspecies of tigers, out of which three are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Bengal tiger is the most populous subspecies in the country, with an estimated population of around 2,500. The Indochinese tiger, found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, has an estimated population of around 350 in India.Despite the success of conservation efforts, challenges remain in ensuring the long-term survival of tigers in India. The loss of habitat due to human activities such as deforestation and mining, human-tiger conflict, and poaching for tiger parts continue to be significant threats to the survival of tigers. Addressing these challenges will require continued investments in habitat protection, community involvement in conservation efforts, and stronger enforcement of wildlife laws to combat poaching and illegal trade. However, with continued efforts and collaboration between government, local communities, and conservation organizations, the future of tigers in India remains hopeful.
(WRITER IS PROFESSOR & PRINCIPAL (Retd.& NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST,F4 CLASSIC AVENUE, RAJEEV NAGAR,HYDERABAD. VIEWS ARE PERSONAL)
Krishna Kumar Vepakomma