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Importance of Tiger Conservation – The Big Picture – RSTV IAS UPSC

  • IASbaba
  • August 12, 2020
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The Big Picture- RSTV, UPSC Articles
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Importance of Tiger Conservation

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TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Environment and Conservation

In News: The awe-inspiring tiger is one of the most iconic animals on Earth. The tiger population across the world dropped sharply since the beginning of the 20th century but now for the first time in conservation history, their numbers are on the rise. In good news for India, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said the country has 70 percent of the world’s tiger population, after releasing a report on tiger census ahead of International Tiger Day on July 29

  • Global Tiger Day, also called the International Tiger Day, is an annual event marked to raise awareness for tiger conservation. 
  • It is observed every year on July 29. 
  • It was started in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit, with the aim to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers and raise awareness among people on why tiger conservation must be supported.

The Report

  • India has 70 percent of world’s tiger population.
  • Jim Corbett national park in Uttarakhand is the largest habitat of the big cats in India (231 tigers). 
  • Corbett is followed by Nagarhole (127) and Bandipur (126), both in Karnataka.

India’s tiger population now stands at 2967 which is 70 percent of the global tiger population. A feather in India’s cap was added with the Guinness World Records recognizing the country’s efforts as the world largest camera trap survey of wildlife.

With the presence of nearly 30 percent of India’s tigers outside tiger reserves, India had embarked upon assessing management interventions through the globally developed Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS) framework, which will now be extended to all fifty tiger reserves across the country.  

New Guinness Record

India’s 2018 Tiger Census has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s largest camera trapping wildlife survey

The fourth cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation 2018 estimated 2,967 tigers or 75 per cent of the global tiger population in the nation. This is by far the biggest increase in terms of both numbers and percentage since the four-yearly census using camera traps and the capture-mark-recapture method began in 2006.

Why is a tiger census needed?

The tiger sits at the peak of the food chain, and its conservation is important to ensure the well-being of the forest ecosystem. The tiger estimation exercise includes habitat assessment and prey estimation. The numbers reflect the success or failure of conservation efforts. This is an especially important indicator in a fast-growing economy like India where the pressures of development often run counter to the demands of conservation.

The Global Tiger Forum, an international collaboration of tiger-bearing countries, has set a goal of doubling the count of wild tigers by 2022. More than 80% of the world’s wild tigers are in India, and it’s crucial to keep track of their numbers.

So, why have the numbers gone up?

The success owes a lot to increased vigilance and conservation efforts by the Forest Department. From 28 in 2006, the number of tiger reserves went up to 50 in 2018, extending protection to larger numbers of tigers over the years. 

  • Healthy increases in core area populations eventually lead to migrations to areas outside the core; this is why the 2018 census has found tigers in newer areas. Over the years, there has been increased focus on tigers even in the areas under the territorial and commercial forestry arms of Forest Departments. The brightest spot in the non-protected tiger-bearing areas is the Brahmapuri division of Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, which has more than 40 tigers.
  • The other important reason is increased vigilance, and the fact that organised poaching rackets have been all but crushed. 
  • The increased protection has encouraged the tiger to breed. Tigers are fast breeders when conditions are conducive. 
  • The rehabilitation of villages outside core areas in many parts of the country has led to the availability of more inviolate space for tigers.
  • Also, because estimation exercises have become increasingly more accurate over the years, it is possible that many tigers that eluded enumerators in earlier exercises were counted this time. Since state boundaries do not apply to the movement of tigers, conservationists prefer to talk about tiger numbers in terms of landscapes rather than of states. This is how the five tiger landscapes identified by the census have done over the years.

Do you know?

  • As of 2019, there are 50 tiger reserves in India, which are governed by Project Tiger which is administrated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
  • India is home to 80 percent of tigers in the world.
  • Tiger Reserves are declared by National Tiger Conservation Authority via Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006 under centrally sponsored scheme called Project Tiger.
  • To declare an area as Tiger Reserve, the state governments can forward their proposals in this regard to NTCA. Central Government via NTCA may also advise the state governments to forward a proposal for creation of Tiger Reserves.
  • The All India Tiger Estimation done quadrennially is steered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority with technical backstopping from the Wildlife Institute of India and implemented by State Forest Departments and partners.
  • Bid to turn Shivalik forest into tiger reserve: Uttar Pradesh government is actively considering the proposal to declare the Shivalik forest in the Saharanpur circle a tiger reserve. If accepted, it would be the fourth tiger reserve in Uttar Pradesh after Amangarh in Bijnor, Pilibhit and Dudhwa in Lakhimpur-Kheri. The move would not only reduce the increasing man-animal conflict but also help nurture the rich biodiversity of the region.

Project Tiger

  • Launched in Jim Corbett National Park of Uttarakhand in 1973, with 9 tiger reserves
  • Currently, The Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change providing central assistance to the tiger States

National Tiger Conservation Authority

  • It was established in December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force which was constituted by the Prime Minister of India for reorganised management of Project Tiger and the many Tiger Reserves in India.
  • The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was amended in 2006 to provide for its constitution. 
  • It is responsible for implementation of the Project Tiger to protect endangered tigers. 
  • It is set up under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests
  • Composition:
    • The Inspector General of Forest will be ex-officio Member Secretary
    • 8 experts having qualifications and experience in wildlife conservation and welfare of people including tribals
    • 3 Members of Parliament (2 from Lok Sabha and 1 from Rajya Sabha)  
  • Functions:
    • Lay down normative standards, guidelines for tiger conservation in the Tiger Reserves, National Parks and Sanctuaries. 
    • Provide information on protection measures. 
    • Facilitate and support tiger reserve management in the States through eco-development and people’s participation

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.

“Do not cut down the forest with its tigers and do not banish the tigers from the forest. The tiger perishes without the forest and the forest perishes without its tigers” (Udyogaparva).

Note:

Lidar is a method for measuring distances by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor

Connecting the Dots:

  1. Discuss the status of tiger population in India. What are the most severe threats to tigers in India?

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