The 2014 Status of Tigers in India report – the third such survey, after previous ones in 2006 and 2010 – has estimated that the wild tiger population of India (counting only animals over 18 months old) has climbed to 2,226. The 2010 report estimated 1,706 tigers across India, up from the mere 1,411 counted in the initial 2006 report.
The study, commissioned by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, an Indian government body, credits what appears to be an increasingly healthy tiger population to ‘political will, conservation commitment by wildlife managers and improved protection’. In order to maintain these improvements, it highlights the need to ensure ‘inviolate core habitats for breeding tiger populations, habitat connectivity for genetic exchange and protection from poaching of tigers and their prey’.
The survey was undertaken with the use of field studies, as well as nearly 10,000 camera-traps across 18 states, which captured a total of 1,540 unique tigers – 70 per cent of the estimated total population. Particular increases were observed in the states of Uttrakhand (estimated 340), Karnataka (406), Tamil Nadu (229), Kerala (136) and Madhya Pradesh (308).
‘As a country having the maximum number of tigers and their source area, India also has the unique distinction of embarking on this refined methodology across all forested habitats and tiger States within the country,’ says Prakash Javadekar, Indian MP and Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change. ‘The state of the art technology has been put to use, involving remotely sensed data, geographical information system and camera traps, besides extensive ground survey. This science-based monitoring and assessment would further strengthen our efforts to conserve our national animal.’