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Tiger Conservation in India

Tiger Conservation in India

Introduction

  • Wildlife involves the study of wild undomesticated animals and plants living in their natural habitats and their ecological interactions.
  • Due to the destruction of forests, a large number of animals and plants have become endangered and their conservation has become a matter of utmost importance.
  • We have to spread awareness that protection of wildlife is necessary for ensuring our own survival on this planet.
  • Tiger is the National Animal of India and also has a significant position in Indian culture.  Tiger usually symbolizes Power and enormous Energy.

Project Tiger

  • Indian tiger population at the end of the 20th century was estimated at 20,000 to 40,000 individuals.
  • The first country-wide tiger census conducted in 1972 estimated the population to comprise a little more than 1,800 individuals, an alarming reduction in tiger population.
  • In 1973, Project Tiger was launched in the Palamau Tiger Reserve, and various tiger reserves were created in the country based on a ‘core-buffer’ strategy.
  • Project Tiger was launched in Jim Corbett National Park of Uttarakhand in 1973.
  • India has more than 80 national parks and 441 Sanctuaries of which some have been declared as Tiger reserves.
  • Tiger reserves are governed by the Project Tiger (1973).
  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • It is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
  • Aim: Protect tigers from extinction by ensuring a viable population in their natural habitats.
  • Government has set up a Tiger Protection Force under PT to combat poachers.
  • PT funds relocation of villagers to minimize human-tiger conflicts.

Interesting facts related to Tigers in India

  • Nagpur is also known as the ‘Tiger Capital’ of India
  • There are 13 tiger reserves in this Vidharbha (including the Nagpur division of eastern) alone.
  • The national parks around Nagpur include Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary, Pench National Park, Nagzira-Navegaon Tiger Reserve, Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, Melghat Tiger Reserve, and Bor Tiger Reserve.
  • The Climatic condition of this forested region is very appropriate for tiger conservation.

The Role of the Tiger in the ecosystem

  • Tiger, being at the apex of the food chain, can be considered as the indicator of the stability of the eco-system. For a viable tiger population, a habitat should possess a good prey base, which in turn will depend on undisturbed forest vegetation. Thus, ‘Project Tiger’, is basically the conservation of the entire eco-system and apart from tigers, all other wild animals also have increased in number in the project areas.

Tiger Census in India

  • Every 4 years the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) conducts a tiger census across India.
  • The first was conducted in 2006, followed by 2010 and in 2014.
  • The Census (2014) had reported 2,226 tigers in the country, up from 1,706 in 2010.
  • According to results of the Tiger census 2019, the total count of tigers has risen to 2,967 from 2,226 in 2014 — an increase of 741 individuals (aged more than one year), or 33%, in four years.
  • India has achieved the target of doubling the tiger count four years ahead of the deadline of 2022.
  • This is by far the biggest increase in Tiger count in terms of both numbers and percentage (since the four-yearly census using camera traps and the capture-mark-recapture method began in 2006).

Importance of Fourth Tiger Census 2018

  • This 2018 tiger census uses more technology including a mobile app named “MSTrIPES” for the very first time to store information of the counting.
  • Another primary focus of the tiger census 2018 is to cover the northeast India that was not included in the previous census.
  • For the very first time three neighbouring countries Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh are helping in counting the number of tigers all across India, especially in the region with mutual borders.

Buffer Area

  • Buffer area is the area peripheral to the critical tiger habitat or core area providing supplementary habitat for dispersing tigers, besides offering scope for co-existence of human activity.
  • The limits of the buffer/ peripheral areas are determined on the basis of scientific and objective criteria in consultation with the Gram Sabha and an Expert Committee constituted for the purpose.

Ex-situ and In-situ conservation methods

  • Ex situ conservation is the conservation and maintenance of samples of living organisms outside their natural habitat. Maintenance of Gene Banks, Seed Banks etc. comes under this method of conservation.
  • In situ conservation is conservation of species in their natural habitats. Maintenance of natural habitats in the form of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks etc. comes under this method of conservation.                                  (Tiger Conservation in India)

National Tiger Conservation Authority

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority was established in December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force.
  • National Tiger Conservation Authority administers Project Tiger.
  • Administration of the tiger reserves will be in accordance with guidelines of NTCA.
  • Tiger reserves in India are administered by field directors as mandated by NTCA.
  • No alteration in the boundaries of a tiger reserve shall be made except on a recommendation of the NTCA and the approval of the National Board for Wild Life.
  • No State Government shall de-notify a tiger reserve, except in public interest with the approval of the NTCA and the approval of the National Board for Wild Life.

Functions of NTCA

  • The Authority lays down standards, guidelines for tiger conservation in the Tiger Reserves, National Parks and Sanctuaries.
  • The Tiger Conservation Authority would be required to prepare an Annual Report, which would be laid in the Parliament along with the Audit Report.
  • State level Steering Committees will be set up in the Tiger States under the Chairmanship of respective Chief Ministers.
  • This has been done with a view for ensuring coordination, monitoring and protection of tigers in the States.
  • A provision has been made for the State Governments to prepare a Tiger Conservation Plan.
  • Provision will be made for the States to establish a Tiger Conservation Foundation, based on the good practices emanating from some tiger reserves.

Steps Taken by the Government for Tiger Conservation

Legal Steps

  • Amendment of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to Wild Life (Protection) Act, 2006 for providing enabling provisions towards constituting the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau.
  • Enhancement of punishment in cases of offence relating to a tiger reserve or its core area.

Administrative Steps

  • Strengthening of ant poaching activities, including special strategy for monsoon patrolling.
  • State level Steering Committees under the Chairmanship of Chief Ministers and establishment of Tiger Conservation Foundation.
  • Creation of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) [Budget 2008]           (Tiger Conservation in India)

Financial Steps

  • Financial and technical help is provided to the States under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes, viz. Project Tiger and Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats.

International Cooperation for Tiger conservation

  • To control the Transboundary illegal trade in wildlife and conservation, India signed a bilateral understanding with Nepal.
  • A tiger conservation protocol was signed by India with China
  • For the conservation of tigers in the Sundarban region, India has signed a protocol with Bangladesh.
  • With Russia, India has constituted a group on tiger and leopard conservation.
  • India is a stakeholder of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • India doesn’t support captive breeding of tigers.

Reasons For Slightly Increased Tiger Population Recently

  • Stringent punishments for violators.
  • Fire protection is effectively done by suitable preventive and control measures.
  • Wireless communication systems and outstation patrol camps have been developed within the tiger reserves, due to which poaching has declined considerably.
  • Livestock grazing has been controlled to a great extent in the tiger reserves.
  • Voluntary Village relocation has been done in many reserves.
  • GIS based digitized database development to evaluate tiger population.
  • Various compensatory developmental works have improved the water regime and the ground and field level vegetation.

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Environment & Biodiversity

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