- The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest living cat species and a member of the genus Panthera.
- It is most recognisable for its dark vertical stripes on orange fur with a white underside.
- It is territorial and generally a solitary but social predator, requiring large contiguous areas of habitat to support its requirements for prey and rearing of its offspring.
- Habitat: Siberian temperate forests to subtropical and tropical forests on the Indian subcontinent, Indochina and a single Indonesian island, Sumatra.
- Traditionally nine subspecies of tigers have been recognized namely Bengal Tigers, Caspian tiger, Amur tiger, Javan tiger, South China tiger, Bali tiger, Sumatran tiger, Malayan tiger and Indo-Chinese tiger, out of which three (Javan tiger, Bali tiger and Caspian tiger) are extinct.
- The tiger is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and protected under Schedule I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which means commercial international trade in tiger is prohibited.
Global tiger conservation initiatives
Global Tiger Forum
- The Global Tiger Forum (GTF) is the only inter-governmental international body established with members from willing countries to embark on a global campaign to protect the Tiger.
- GTF, formed in 1993, is focused on saving the remaining 5 subspecies of Tigers distributed over 13 Tiger Range countries of the world.
- The Secretariat is located in New Delhi.
St.Petersburg declaration and Global Tiger Recovery Program
- In the 2010 St. Petersburg Declaration, several tiger home range countries came together to double the global tiger population by 2022. The countries agreed to a Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP)
- It was facilitated by the Global Tiger Initiative of the World Bank along with the Russian Federation.
- Global Tiger Forum (GTF) being the implementing arm of the Global Tiger Initiative Council is mandated by the tiger range countries to monitor and review the GTRP with mission visits and stocktaking events.
- The tiger range countries that are part of the Global Tiger Recovery Program are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
- It also encourages trans-boundary collaboration between countries for tiger conservation.
Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP)
- It is an initiative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) launched in 2014
- ITHCP is a strategic funding mechanism that aims to save tigers in the wild, their habitats and to support human populations in key locations throughout Asia.
- The programme contributes to the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP), a global effort to double tiger numbers in the wild by 2022.
Current wild tiger status
- The second Tiger Range Countries Summit at Vladivostok in September 2022 revealed
- South Asia and Russia maintain optimal wild-tiger status.
- India and Nepal achieved their Tx2.
- The current wild tiger number globally is a little over 4,500.
- Countries investing in tiger governance fared well.
- Tigers are now functionally extinct in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Lao PDR whose tiger governance was poor.
- Malaysia’s work is commendable as field visits of Malaysian tiger delegations got a first-hand experience of existing good practices in field formations and commendable assistance from the government of India through the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
India’s tiger efforts
Project tiger, 1973
- 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.
- At present, there are a total of 53 Tiger Reserves in India governed by Project Tiger.
- It made it to the Guinness Book of World Records (for the largest wildlife camera trap survey.
- Almost 2.3 per cent of the country’s geographical area is under the fold of Project tiger.
National Tiger Conservation Authority
- NTCA is a statutory body constituted under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 which gave much-needed statutory backing and in turn impetus to Project Tiger.
Agenda for actions and Tiger conservation plan
- The “exclusive” tiger agenda focuses on viable tiger populations in core areas (national parks/sanctuaries) within the natural habitat carrying capacity.
- The peripheral areas (buffer) are governed by “inclusive” actions to handle the co-occurrence of people and wild animals moving out of the core.
- The Tiger Conservation Plan (TCP) is a statutory requirement for every tiger reserve which provides a site-specific roadmap for such actions.
MoUs with tiger range countries
- On the international front, there are bilateral instruments/Memorandums of Understanding with several tiger range countries (India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar).
- Increasing numbers of tigers poses a pressure on already sensitive human tiger interface which necessitates the tiger corridors to remain functional.
- The ongoing transformations in tiger landscapes call for envisioning a larger “zone of influence” with a focus on integration on several fronts, namely, spatial, sectoral, intra-sectoral, vertical; and resource pooling.
- A landscape-scale master plan with due legal backing and funding support from ongoing schemes is the need of the hour.