According to an animal population census undertaken by conservationists in India, the Indian tiger population has rebounded strongly over the last four years. Indian authorities note that improved management techniques, including maintaining wildlife corridors, has led to the tiger population increasing from 1706 in 2010 to 2226 in 2014.
Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar noted the increase as a “huge success” as the country fights to save endangered tigers from poachers and destruction of their natural habitat.
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“While the tiger population is falling in the world, it is rising in India. We have increased by 30 per cent from the last count. That is a huge success story,” Javadekar commented at a press conference Tuesday.
Statement from conservationist
Conservationist Belinda Wright explained the methodology of the census was “scientifically robust”, with officials, NGOs and international observers helping to survey the cats across a 115,800-square mile area including 40 tiger reserves.
“The information [in the census] is as accurate as you can get. So it’s very good news for the tigers,” Wright, from the Wildlife Protection Society of India, noted in an interview with AFP.
“The loss of wildlife corridors for tigers is a big concern at the moment as the land is increasingly used for development,” she added.
“Hopefully this will send a signal to the new government (of Prime Minister Narendra Modi) to protect these corridors” given tigers regularly move from one reserve to another nearby reserve.
Background on Indian tigers
Of note, over half of the shrinking global wild tiger population is found in India, and the nation has undertaken a conservation program to stop their decline.
The Indian tiger population has been on the upswing since 2006 (1411), but even given the recent growth, the tiger population still remains way short of the 3,700 tigers estimated to live in India in 2002..
Conservationists say close to 40,000 tigers roamed across India around the time independence from Britain in 1947.
Countries all across Asia are fighting a battle against poachers, who sell tiger body parts in the traditional Chinese medicine market, as well as other issues including pollution and as habitat loss.
In a related story, thousands of people from a local tribe were evicted from a tiger reserve in India’s central Madhya Pradesh state in 2014 in an effort to protect the animals from human impact.