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Tiger numbers swell but threat to the big cat remains

India’s tiger populations registered a steady rise from 1706 tigers in 2011 to 2226 in 2014.

india Updated: Jul 29, 2017 00:16 IST
Malavika Vyawahare and
Malavika Vyawahare and
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Tiger,Tiger Population,Tiger Population in India
There were 50 poaching-related deaths in 2016. According to the Wildlife Protection Society of India, this is the highest in 15 years. (Reuters File Photo)

India today has almost twice the number of tigers it had a decade ago, but the threats to India’s big cats remain as potent as ever. India’s reported tiger deaths related to poaching peaked in 2016, according to World Wildlife Fund-India.

There were 50 poaching-related deaths in 2016. According to the Wildlife Protection Society of India, this is the highest in 15 years. India’s tiger populations registered a steady rise from 1706 tigers in 2011 to 2226 in 2014.

“We are expecting the tiger population to cross 2,500,” Debabrata Swain, head of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, said of the ongoing All India Tiger Estimation.

“There is no place for complacency. Tiger habitats — including prime reserves and corridors — continue to be under threat,” Prerna Singh Bindra, a veteran wildlife conservationist and author of “The Vanishing,” said.

Though India launched Project Tiger in 1973, the NTCA, a statutory authority, was set up only in 2006. It came as a response to the drastic fall in numbers as highlighted by the local extinction of tigers in Sariska and Panna reserves.

In the decade since, population in the reserves has rebounded, however, the threats to tiger habitats persisted in different forms. The Ken Betwa river linking project that was cleared by the Environment ministry this year threatens to submerge about 30% of the Panna, a proposed national highway will sear through the core area of Corbett tiger reserve in Uttarakhand, and a stretch of the National Highway 7 dissecting the vital Kanha-Pench corridor is coming up with inadequate measures to accommodate wildlife movement.

“Tiger is a conservation dependent species, there are issues of poaching, conflict, habitat degradation,” Tito Joseph, at the Wildlife Protection Society of India, said.

First Published: Jul 29, 2017 00:15 IST