India announces its tiger population is flourishing

India’s environment minister announced yesterday that tiger populations in India have rebounded 30 percent thanks to targeted conservation efforts.

Prakash Javadekar released the findings of the quadrennial tiger census from New Delhi and reported that India now has 2,226 tigers in the wild today, up from 1,706 in 2010.

India may now be home to anywhere from 50 percent to 70 percent of the world’s wild tiger population, which is estimated at 3,700 to 4,200 individuals.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the totals were believed to be around 100,000, but the threats of deforestation, human encroachment, and rampant poaching fueled by the tiger trade—decimated the Indian tiger species.

The effects were felt worldwide.

Countries that once had flourishing populations—Burma, Bhutan, China, Laos, and Vietnam—now only have populations in the dozens, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency.

India has seen this recent success because of a focused effort on protecting tiger habitat, especially corridors that let them roam hundreds of miles.

It’s gratifying to know that the habitat protection efforts of the Wildlife Trust of India and the International Fund for Animal Welfare are paying off.

IFAW-WTI has identified at least 88 critical corridors in India. WTI, with the help of IFAW and other charitable organizations, have secured through private purchase and facilitation of voluntary repatriation the following parcels: Kollegal Corridor in Karnataka, Wayanad Corridor in Kerala, and Siju-Rewak Corridor in Meghalaya

According to the report, a total of 378,118 km of forests in 18 states carrying tigers were surveyed (see table 1, figure 2 in the report, embedded below).

Years ago, we helped triple the size of Manas National Park in northeast India, a protected area and native tiger habitat. We helped relocate a village from Sariska Tiger Reserve to allow the reintroduction of tigers after the tiger population was killed by poachers.

We are campaigning for several protected areas to be developed or upgraded, including Mansingh-Deo Wildlife Sanctuary, New Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary, Nawegaon Wildlife Sanctuary, and Sathyamangalam and Nagzira-Nawegaon Tiger Reserves

The work was praised by Javadekar. “We have the world’s best managed tiger reserves," Javadekar said in his announcement.

According to the report, a total of 378,118 km of forests in 18 states carrying tigers were surveyed (see table 1, figure 2 in the report, embedded below).

The number of cameras that were used (9,735) have never been used anywhere else in the world for such a census.

Officials claim that about 70 percent of the tigers were captured individually by camera traps during the count, countering any doubts that the numbers were dubiously extrapolated.

Knowing that corridor planning pay off in the short and long terms, we feel confident that we can continue to further tiger population growth with concerted strategic efforts, as well as rely on corridor planning to protect many other species as well.


For more information about IFAW/WTI efforts to increase wild tiger populations around the world, visit our campaign page.

Read the entire Status of Tigers in India 2014 report below.

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