India’s tiger count tops 3,600, Madhya Pradesh leads at 785
India is home to 75% of the world?s tiger population with an estimated 3,682 tigers in the wild, significantly higher than the projected figure of 3,167.
India is home to 75% of the world’s tiger population with an estimated 3,682 of the big cats in the wild, according to an updated analysis of the 2022 tiger census released on Saturday, which found the number to be significantly higher than the 3,167 figure projected in April.
The April data was part of a preliminary report released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The new report is based on further analysis of the same data.
Among the country’s 53 reserves, Corbett, in Uttarakhand had the highest number at 260, while Madhya Pradesh’s forests continued to account for the largest population for any state at 785, the All India Tiger Estimation, 2022 report’s full version stated.
“Heartening news! Under PM Shri @narendramodi ji’s visionary leadership, we now have a thriving tiger population with lower and upper limit of 3,167-3,925 (average 3,682). Congratulations to the state forest departments, Wildlife Institute of India, Communities, Civil Society Institutions and @ntca_india for their extraordinary efforts!,” wrote Bhupender Yadav, the Union minister for environment, forest and climate change in tweets on Saturday.
The new numbers reflect commendable success of tiger conservation efforts, which began in 1973 when Project Tiger was launched. In between, the numbers had dwindled to shocking lows — 1,411 in 2006 and 1,706 in 2010 — before efforts were stepped up.
“It is a matter of pride that tiger numbers are increasing, but increasing numbers also bring many challenges,” said AG Ansari, an Uttarakhand-based wildlife activist. “As new generation of tigers in search of new territories come into conflict with humans, one can’t deny the chances of a surge in tiger-human conflicts,” Ansari said.
“We as stakeholders have to accept this challenge and have to learn the art of living with the tigers to sustain this positive trend.”
India has been conducting DNA- based tiger estimations since 2006 every four years, and has seen a steady rise of population across the reserves in the country.
Madhya Pradesh remained at the top of the list with 785 tigers, an increase from 526 in 2018, followed by Karnataka (563), Uttarakhand (560) and Maharashtra (444).
Among the country’s 53 tiger preserves, Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand reported the highest population of 260 tigers, followed by Bandipur (150) and Nagarhole (141) in Karnataka, Bandhavgarh (135) in Madhya Pradesh and Dudhwa (135) in Uttar Pradesh. Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site known for its rhinos, recorded 104 tigers, and Sunderbans, spread across West Bengal and Bangladesh, has 100 of the iconic big cats.
The report was released in Dehradun by junior Union environment minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey along with Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.
“In 2018, Madhya Pradesh had 526 tigers, only two more than Karnataka. The remarkable thing in the census is that 563 tigers were found in six tiger reserves, while 222 tigers were found outside the protected areas. We took care of the tigers and kept track of every one of them,” said JS Chauhan, former chief wildlife warden in Madhya Pradesh.
“The population of tigers has increased by 49% in Madhya Pradesh, which is the highest in India, despite recording the highest tiger mortality. From 2012 to 2022, 278 tiger deaths have been reported from Madhya Pradesh. We also shifted more than 300 villages to create space for tigers,” he added.
“We created awareness among villagers and that’s why MP has fewer instances of human-animal conflicts. We increased compensation against the loss of cattle. We maintained transparency in recording deaths as well. Our increase in the proportion also reflects the birth of new cubs every year. Every year in MP, around 150 tiger cubs are born,” he added.
“It is a matter of great pleasure that as a result of the cooperation of the people of our state and the untiring efforts of the forest department that the number of tigers in our state has increased from 526 to 785 in four years,” said Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Dhami praised the Corbett Tiger Reserve but said that there will need to be more vigil. “With the increase in tiger numbers, poachers have also started becoming active,” he said.
Not all states fared well. There were no tigers estimated to exist in Nagaland and Mizoram for the second consecutive estimation.
The number of tigers has fallen in at least five states — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, all part of the central Indian landscape except Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, where there was an increase.
These five states are considered hotbeds of Maoist insurgents with a typically poor conservation record, a government official said, asking not to be named.
In the 2018 census, Madhya Pradesh had 526 tigers, followed by Karnataka’s 524 and Uttarakhand’s 442.
Corbett tiger reserve had the highest tiger numbers at 231, followed by Nagarhole at 127, Bandipur at 126, and Bandhavgarh and Kaziranga with 104 tigers each.
Tiger reserves such as Periyar in Kerala, Satpura in Madhya Pradesh, and Nagarhole and Bandipur in Karnataka continue to be best reserves in the country, showed the report, while Dampa in Mizoram, Indravati in Chhattisgarh and Nameri in Assam were the worst as per the WII’s evaluation criteria.
The maximum tiger population increase has been reported from the central India landscape (from 1,033 in 2018 to 1,439 in 2022) and the Shivalik hills and Gangetic plains (646 to 819), primarily because of good feline numbers in Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra.