What’s in the news?
- Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav participated in the 4th Asia Ministerial Conference on tiger conservation, an important event for reviewing progress towards the Global Tiger Recovery Programme and commitments to tiger conservation.
- Stating that India has achieved the remarkable feat of doubling the tiger population in 2018 itself, 4 years ahead of the targeted year 2022, he informed that the model of success of India’s tiger governance is now being replicated for other wildlife like the Lion, Dolphin, Leopard, Snow Leopard and other small wild cats, while the country is on the threshold of introducing Cheetah in its historical range.
- The tiger is classified into nine subspecies, three of which (Javan, Caspian, and Bali) are extinct. A fourth, the South-China subspecies, is most likely extinct in the wild, with no signs of its existence in the last decade. The existing subspecies are Bengal, Indochinese, Sumatran, Siberian, and Malayan.
- Tigers are globally listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Malayan and Sumatran sub-species are listed as “Critically Endangered.”
- Tigers are found mainly in the forests of tropical Asia, although they historically occurred more widely in drier and colder climes. Some species are also found in cold regions (Siberian Tigers of Russia) as well as marshy lands (Bengal tigers in Sundarbans).
- Tiger has been protected under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1975 which means commercial international trade in tiger is prohibited.
St. Petersburg Tiger Summit
- It was the first global summit to protect tigers from extinction. It was hosted in 2010.
- 13 tiger range countries namely India, Laos, China, Vietnam, Russia, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia participated in this event.
- They adopted a Global Tiger Recovery Program with the aim of Tx2- doubling the number of wild Tigers by 2022, through combating threats, engaging with local communities and improving tiger habitat management.
- It also encourages trans-boundary collaboration between countries for tiger conservation.
- Note: According to the All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018, India has achieved its target of doubling the number of tigers two years before the committed date of 2022. The tiger population in India now stands at almost 2,970 tigers.
Why are Tigers important for India?
- India today is home to 70 per cent of the world’s tiger population.
- Tigers are indicators of the ecological wellness of planet earth. Being the dominant predators of the ecosystem, they ensure that the numbers of herbivores like deer are kept balanced. A steep fall in tiger population could lead to a rise in herbivore population, which could potentially destroy forests by consuming the trees and plants.
- Madhya Pradesh hosts most of the tigers as a state while Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand houses the most number of tigers in any protected area.
- India started Project Tiger in 1973 with 9 Tiger reserves in the country and today we have 50 tiger reserves in the country.
- Project Tiger is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Government of India which was launched in 1973 for in-situ conservation of wild tigers in designated tiger reserves.
- Broadly, the strategy involves exclusive tiger agenda in the core/critical tiger habitat, inclusive people-wildlife agenda in the outer buffer, besides fostering the latter agenda in the corridors.
- This strategy is reflected in a tiger reserve specific Tiger Conservation Plan for each reserve prepared under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- The initiative is administered under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). National Tiger Conservation Authority, a statutory body under MoEFCC, is the immediate supervising agency.
- It was launched from the Jim Corbett National Park of Uttarakhand.
- At present, there are a total of 53 Tiger Reserves in India governed by Project Tiger.
What are the major Challenges for conservation of species in the long run?
- The present tiger reserves might not be able to conserve the species in the long run because there is a need for more corridors rather for the exchange of Gene pool.
- Out of 53 tiger reserves in India, nearly 17 are approaching the peak of their capacity at sustaining tiger populations.
- In today’s scenario, human-animal conflict is increasing day-by-day and the major reason lies in fragmentation or shrinking of habitat.
- Due to illegal poaching and illegal markets, there is grave danger for the tiger species.
- In a recent survey it was found that one-third of tigers live outside the tiger reserves.
- The inter-connectivity of Tiger reserves is very poor due to which the translocation of tigers is difficult.
- There is a need to shift the focus from the Tiger reserves towards the network areas of tigers through which man-animal conflict can be avoided.
- The most dominant factor like Climate change needs to be taken into account while framing our development as well as conservation strategy. Eg: Recently, a tiger was found in sikkim where it was never found before.
- Eco-tourism is making a way for tigers to get habituated with people and hence it needs to be promoted.
- Even though we have achieved a significant increase in tiger population there is a lot which needs to be done to conserve the flagship species as the country is more vulnerable to the dynamic climate.