Status of Tiger Population in India


Royal Bengal Tiger

1. India has 2,967 tigers, a third more than in 2014, according to results of a tiger census
2. This gargantuan exercise is been conducted once in four years.
3. Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of tigers, closely followed by Karnataka and Uttarakhand.
4. Chhattisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in tiger population and all other States saw a “positive” increase.
5. This gargantuan exercise is been conducted once in four years.
6. Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of tigers; Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu registered the “maximum improvement.
7. India accounts for many of the 3,500-odd tigers that are scattered among Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russian Federation, Thailand and Vietnam.

Why is a tiger census needed?


  1. The tiger sits at the peak of the food chain, and its conservation is important to ensure the well-being of the forest ecosystem.
  2. The tiger estimation exercise includes habitat assessment and prey estimation.
  3. The numbers reflect the success or failure of conservation efforts.
  4. The Global Tiger Forum, an international collaboration of tiger-bearing countries, has set a goal of doubling the count of wild tigers by 2022.
  5. More than 80% of the world’s wild tigers are in India, and it’s crucial to keep track of their numbers.

Various Methods used to Counting Tigers


Pug Mark Method: In this method, the foot print of the tiger is important. It is considered that each pug mark is unique in itself & by analyzing various foot prints in the areas of tigers, the number of tigers in that area can be counted.

Camera Trap: In this various method, cameras are installed in the tiger areas having night vision facility as well. By recording various tigers in the camera, the number of tigers can be estimated.

Poop/scat Method: In this method the number of tigers is counted by poop/scat. The poop is analyzed by DNA sampling and then we can arrive at a more accurate count.

Radio Collar Method: Tigers are captured in this method & are fitted with a radio collar. In this way the tigers can be counted.

Criticism


  1. The Camera Trap estimation of tiger numbers in source populations, in tiger reserves was poorly done which was a violation of capture-recapture modeling.
  2. The estimated of prey species densities from line transects were poorly done which is against the current practices.
  3. The complicated, ‘double-sampling’ based regression model is somewhat flawed and obsolete approach.
  4. Their statistical methodology of relying on calibrations and regressions based on track and dung surveys to generate wider estimate tiger numbers in wider landscapes was also deeply flawed.
  5. Based on Enumerators Subjective Ability to Identify Individual Tigers from Pugmarks.
  6. Variation in Pugmarks with substratum, gait, and observers recording skills
  7. Not possible to obtain Pugmarks from all Tiger Occupied Landscapes.
  8. Camera trap method becomes useless in areas having salty waters. It damages the camera.
  9. Not always that someone will get the poop of all the tigers in an area.
  10. In Radio Collar Method the method fails when the concerned tiger enters the salty water.

Measures to improve tiger conservation efforts in the country


  1. Protect tigers and their habitat.
  2. Build capacity in range states.
  3. Reduce human-tiger conflict.
  4. Conduct scientific research on tigers to help inform conservation strategies.
  5. Promote tiger-friendly policies.
  6. Monitor tiger numbers, population trends, and threats to tigers and their habitats.
  7. To build more tiger reserves in India.
  8. To enforce complete ban on poaching.

Conclusion


The tiger is a unique animal which plays a pivotal role in the health and diversity of an ecosystem. It is a top predator which is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. Therefore, the presence of tigers in the forest is an indicator of the well being of the ecosystem. The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.

Therefore, it’s not just about saving a beautiful animal. It is about making sure that we live a little longer as the forests are known to provide ecological services like clean air, water, pollination, temperature regulation etc.

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