Good news for the tiger today as India announced that its tiger population had increased from 1,411 in 2007 to 1,706, the results a part of the largest tiger population survey ever conducted, by India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority.
Considering that tigers once numbered more than 100,00 at the turn of the last century, and since then lost 97 percent of their population and 94 percent of their home range, any good news is excellent news.
“In its detail, this tiger estimation exercise shows the importance India attaches to this prime conservation issue,” said WWF India Chief Executive Officer Ravi Singh. “The results indicate the need to intensify field-based management and intervention to go beyond the present benchmark, bringing more people and partners into the process.”
This was the first time that such a survey included non-Tiger Reserves and areas outside of national parks. Within the survey, areas such as the Sundarbans, parts of Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Assam were added.
Naturally, there was variance to the results. There were increases in the population of tigers in the states of Assam and Uttarakhand, while there were also decreases in the states Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
Sadly, though, the census also noted, alongside the population growth, a decline in the amount of space tigers were living in, from 36,139 to 28,108 square miles outside of protected areas. Declines such as this result in source populations being isolated, minimizing the chance for breeding and the continued growth of the species.
On top of all of that, the survey also highlighted an increase in human-tiger conflict around tiger reserves as a result of an increasing human presence in places such as Corbett, Ranthambore and Bandhavgarh.
“As seen from the results, recovery requires strong protection of core tiger areas and the corridors that link them, as well as effective management in the surrounding areas,” said Dr. Barney Long, Manager of WWF’s Asian Species Conservation Programs. “With these two vital conservation ingredients, we can not only halt their decline but also ensure tigers make a strong and lasting comeback.”