A global repository of photographs and DNA samples of all tigers in the wild — around 3,890 — may come up in India.
A formal proposal will be submitted by India at a United Nations conference on wildlife to be held in South Africa in September, a top official said on Saturday.
The chances of the proposal’s acceptance are high as India already has a database of 1,685 big cats, which is 43% of the world tiger population. 70% of India’s tiger population is already in the database.
India is a leading player in tiger conservation as it is the only country where the animal’s population has risen in the last decade and many countries are now adopting India’s methods including use of camera traps and radio collaring for monitoring big cat movement.
Experts say that a century ago, the world had around one lakh tigers but the number came down to around 3200 inearly 2000, ringing alarm bells across countries.
Though conservation efforts have led to an increase in its number, the animal described by hunter-conservationist Jim Corbett as a “large-hearted gentleman” continues to be poached for its skin and other body parts.
“The (global) database will help us in identifying the origin of individual tigers which become victim of wildlife crime,” said YV Jhala, a tiger expert who will head the cell at the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute.
The WII which conducts tiger estimation once in four years across 3,78,118 sq kms of tiger habitat has unique photographs of 1,685 tigers in the wild and the number is likely to increase in the next round of estimated to be done in 2018.
Apart from photographs, the cell has DNA and scat samples that helped the WII estimate that India had 2,226 tigers in 2014, a jump of over 30 per cent in four years.
The database has already helped the WII to track the origin of 62 poached tigers in the last 10 years.
In addition, information on tiger zones helps in providing guidance to the environment ministry before approving developmental projects.