New Delhi, Jul 30 (EFE).- The number of tigers in India has steadily increased and now stands at 3,682 cats, according to the latest census.
A Royal Bengal tiger in its enclosure at the Van Vihar National Park on the occasion of World Tiger Day in Bhopal, India, 29 July 2019. EFE/EPA/SANJEEV GUPTA
Of the total population of tigers, 70% live at one of India’s 53 nature reserves, according to the 2022 census released by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
“It’s impossible to have tigers without conflict, especially in our country where 30% of the tigers are outside protected areas, right? So there are a lot of people still in tiger areas. So the only option is, can we minimize this conflict? So can we have tigers and a minimum conflict?” one of the experts involved in the latest tiger census told EFE on Sunday.
Using photographs and other evidence, scientists estimated the minimum tiger population could be 3,167 and the maximum at 3,925, reflecting an annual growth rate of 6.1 %.
The latest data is reassuring for animal protection groups after the alarming data recorded in 2008 which reported just 1,411 tigers across the country, half as many as in 2002, mainly due to poachers, habitat destruction and the disappearance of their prey.
The census indicates that several reserves in central, northern and western India have registered “remarkable increases in the tiger population”, although WII scientist Bilal Habib, who was involved in the count in the state of Maharashtra, told EFE that there was still room for the population to continue to thrive.
“Out of the 53 tiger reserves, only 10 to 15 of them have reached the maximum number of tigers,” Habib said.
Officials point out however that some areas, especially in the Western Ghats, and around 35% of tiger reserves require greater protection measures as well as a repopulation drive with tigers from other areas.
India currently hosts 75% of the planet’s tigers and has scaled up the number of reserves as part of Project Tiger from nine to 53, with an emphasis on minimizing conflict between the large cats and the local population.
Monitoring of India’s tiger population started in 2006 when authorities conducted the first census using new technology to record data replacing the old method of tracking footprints.
India currently hosts several wildlife conservation programs in addition to Project Tiger.
One of the most recent initiatives is Project Cheetah, which began less than a year ago to introduce up to 50 African cheetahs in India, although the recent death of eight specimens has raised doubts about the program. EFE