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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

Rajasthan’s tiger count doubles in 12 years

From 32 in 2006 to 69, Rajasthan witnesses 115% increase in tiger population in 12 years.

jaipur Updated: Jul 30, 2019 12:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Rajasthan has three tiger reserves -- Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur, Sariska Tiger Reserve (Alwar) and Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (Kota). Ranthambore has the maximum big cats.
Rajasthan has three tiger reserves -- Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur, Sariska Tiger Reserve (Alwar) and Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (Kota). Ranthambore has the maximum big cats.(Himanshu Vyas / HT File Photo )
         

Rajasthan has witnessed an increase of tiger population by 115% in the last 12 years, states the ‘Status of Tigers in India-2018’ report, released on Monday by PM Narendra Modi.

The new estimation for 2018 indicates that there are 69 tigers in Rajasthan compared to 45 in 2014, 36 in 2010 and 32 in the 2006 estimation.

International Tiger Day has been held on July 29 July every year since 2010. The day was first decided at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit to raise awareness about the decline of tiger numbers and encourage the celebration on big cat conservation.

India has now 2,967 tigers, a 33% increase in numbers between 2014 and 2018, according to the All India Tiger Estimation Results.

Of the 20 tiger-inhabited states in the country, Rajasthan stands ninth in terms of tiger population after Madhya Pradesh (526), Karnataka (524), Uttarakhand (442), Maharashtra (312), Tamil Nadu (264), Kerala (190), Assam (190) and Uttar Pradesh (173).

In Central India landscape and Eastern Ghats, covering eight states (Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Odisha), Rajasthan stands third in tiger population with 69 after Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The report, prepared by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), states that the fourth cycle of the national tiger status assessment of 2018-19 is the most accurate survey conducted. The survey covered 381,400 km of forested habitats in 20 tiger-occupied states of India. The total effort invested in the survey was 593,882 man-days.

Out of the estimated tiger count at 2,967, 83% were actually camera trapped individual tigers; 87% of the big cat numbers were accounted for by camera trap-based capture-mark-recapture and remaining 13% estimated through covariate-based models.

The rise in tiger population is observed in areas with good management inputs, complementing conservation efforts. The report suggests that while there are sufficient habitats to accommodate increasing tigers in India, they need conservation to recover prey populations. Tiger habitats outside protected areas are vital for linking source populations but are extensively used by communities. A conservation model that promotes tiger permeability of such habitats while simultaneously securing the livelihoods of local communities is the answer. Managing conflict and providing economic incentives will foster coexistence in these multiple use forests and ensure the long-term future of tigers in India.

Rajasthan forest minister Sukhram Vishnoi said the state government is committed to protecting wildlife and specially endangered species. “The increasing population of tiger shows that forest and wildlife in the state are safe and protected; there has been no incident of poaching,” Vishnoi said. He added the state government is mulling to develop more habitats for big cats.

Former IFS officer Sunayan Sharma said tiger conservation in Rajasthan has definitely witnessed progress but not up to the expectations. “STR (Sariska Tiger Reserve) is still stuck with several problems, such as village relocation and buffer zone maintenance; the core area is still under grazing. The progress is slow, which needs to be looked into,” he said.

Sharma, who is also the president of the Sariska Tiger Foundation, said developing Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR) and relocating tigers to the reserve are steps towards progress but villages continue to exist there. “What would have been the rightful method to revive the reserve was relocating villages first. An enclosure was made and tigers were relocated; there will be no contribution to the ecology till the big cats aren’t free,” he said.

“Similarly at Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR) there has been no progress in the last two decades. RTR is a miracle; it’s a maternity home for big cats because of which the tigers are surviving but to protect them the area needs to be expanded and Kailadevi wildlife reserve needs to be developed,” Sharma said.

The state has three tiger reserves -- Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur, Sariska Tiger Reserve (Alwar) and Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (Kota). Ranthambore has the maximum big cats.

In order to avoid human-wildlife conflict, relocating excess tigers and increasing the carrying capacity of reserves, the Rajasthan forest department is mulling to develop more habitats for big cats. The department is planning to introduce tigers in forest areas, such as Ramgarh Vishdhari, Shergarh, Kumbhalgarh, Rawli Toadgarh, Jhiri in Dholpur, Khetri Bansiyal in Jhunjhunu, Sultanpur in Bundi and Shahbad in Baran. Feasibilities are being examined.

First Published: Jul 30, 2019 12:51 IST

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