India’s tiger population has leaped to almost 3,000 last year, a 33% increase since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.
It is a historic achievement, Modi said as he released the results of report of the endangered cats on Global Tiger Day.
The report titled ‘Status of Tigers in India – 2018’ says the country has 2,967 tigers now compared with 1,400 some 15 years ago. It is home to 70% of wild tigers in the world and one of the safest habitats for them.
The results of the latest tiger census should make every Indian, every nature lover happy, he said.
Tiger surveys are conducted every four years. In the latest study completed in 15 months, 26,000 camera traps took some 350,000 images across tiger habitats, Environmental Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
Some 83% of the tigers were camera trapped making the survey more accurate.
The report says India’s tiger population has doubled in the past 12 years achieving the goal four years ahead of the deadline set at the Tiger Summit of St. Petersburg in 2010.
Madhya Pradesh leads the states in tiger population with 526 big cats (308 in 2014), followed by Karnataka 524 (406) and Uttarakhand 442 (340).
However, the tiger population has more than halved in Chhattisgarh from 46 in 2014 to 19 in 2018.
The report raised concern over the fall in tiger population in North East hills and Odisha.
The tiger reserves of Nameri in Assam and Pakke in Arunachal Pradesh registered declines. Tigers were not recorded in Buxa, West Bengal, Dampa in Mizoram and Palamau in Jharkhand
The fall in tiger population in Indravati in Chhattisgarh was linked to the poor law and order situation prevailing there.
The Indian government started Project Tiger initiative in 1973 to protect the habitat of big cats and rehabilitate them. From nine tiger reserves, the number has gone up to 502 covering about 2.21% of the country’s geographical area.
In neighbouring Nepal, the tiger population went up from 121 in 2009 to 235 in 2018.
Global tiger population has been steadily falling because of demand for tiger body parts in China and South-East Asia for use in traditional medicine and human encroachment on their habitat.