At the time when Project Tiger was launched from Corbett’s Dhikala range the Bengal Tiger was literally facing extinction in its home turf with just 268 big cats in the wild according to the first nation-wide tiger census conducted in 1972. The years of poaching, trophy hunting, human-animal conflict and deforestation had almost wiped them out, when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stepped in.One of the very first tiger conservation efforts undertaken as part of the Project Tiger was to ensure that the natural habitat of the big cat is in place. It also put forward the idea of dedicated tiger reserves across the country, which was their natural home.According to the latest figures, there are 50 tiger reserves across the country spread over total area of 71027.10 square kms which are covered by these project tiger areas. It is estimated that for a tiger to survive it needs about 25,000 acres of forest land. When the project started there were just nine reserves in 1973-74 which covered an area of 9,115 square km and the gradually the numbers grew over the next four decades, to incorporate a more geographical area for the national animal to roam around.More than what geographical area allocation, what worked in favour of the tigers is the buffer zones around the core area of the animal’s habitat. This meant that there were fewer chances of human-tiger conflict which is one of biggest reasons for their death. Security and surveillance were also stepped up in the reserves to check poachers and additionally, tigers were fitted with radio collar tags to help authorities track their movement and keep a tab on their activity.Given all the efforts put in place, it is no surprise that today India can boast of a healthy tiger population which continues to increase after every census, from a point where it had almost disappeared.But all’s not well for the big cats in their homes, even now. Despite the best efforts poaching is rampant in the tiger reserves and the number of tigers getting shot is only increasing year after year.Just this year alone till July 74 tigers have died in the wild, which works out an average of 11 tigers a month.
So far 2016 has recorded the highest number of tiger deaths since 2006, with a total of 122 deaths, including 21 confirmed poaching incidents. In 2017 the numbers are likely to be higher than that of the previous year.It is believed that the growth of illegal international trade in tiger parts is resulting in a growth in poaching in India.
Another key factor is the increasing human-tiger conflict in the buffer zones, where they are increasingly coming into contact with humans due to the spread of agricultural land, which was once the roaming ground of the big cats.A number of tiger deaths were reported this year, mostly in Maharashtra where radio-collared tigers were electrocuted from fences around agricultural land, where the tigers stray into, looking for an easy prey in domesticated animals like cattle. That is not all, the Tigers are increasingly becoming vulnerable inside the reserves too, thanks to the rise in tourism. Source (IT)
For more news updates Follow and Like us on Facebook