November 06, 2019

Tiger Populations in India Reach Inflection Point: Growth of Endangered Species

The population of tigers in India has been in sharp decline over recent decades, but studies now show the population of these endangered species are on the rise.

Conservation efforts are a continuous worldwide struggle, and this is particularly the case in India. With a significant loss of biodiversity and the diminishment of ecosystems globally, many species of tiger in India have been driven to near extinction.

What is conservation?

Conservation defines itself as the preservation, restoration and protection of the natural environment and of wildlife.

As the impact of human civilisation is being increasingly recognised around the world, global efforts are being made in order to preserve habitats and enhance the natural world.

Fortunately, in many cases, these efforts have been a success!

Tiger in Ranthambore National Park, India

Tiger in Ranthambore National Park, India

Increasing tiger populations in India

Such accomplishments can be seen within the animal kingdom. Zooming our lens onto India, the most endangered animal? The Tiger.  

Tigers present a global image of power, with a lifespan of 26 years they are a vital predator within many ecosystems.

Today, six sub-species of tiger exist, these species comprise of; the Bengal Tiger, Malayan Tiger, South China tiger, Amur Tiger, Sumatran tiger and Indochinese tiger.

Unfortunately, not all species of tiger have seen such success, whereby three sub-species of tiger are already extinct. These include The Bali tiger, the Caspian tiger, and the Javan tiger.

Globally, tigers are within the top 10 endangered species. However, due to conservation efforts, an increase in the populations of India’s Bengal tiger has successfully been achieved.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stated that a census concluded an increase in Bengal tigers by 30% over the past four years, increasing the species population from 2,226 in 2015 to 2,967 across the country this year.

Today, India is said to be home to around 70% of the world’s tiger population, and is said by President Modi to be one of the most secure tiger habitats in the world.

This number was recorded using a series of camera traps placed in tiger habitats over a space of 15 months, recording around 350,000 images of tiger sightings.

India's bengal tiger

India's Bengal tiger

How India are increasing the number of tigers in the wild: The road to recover for India’s critically endangered tigers

A global record low of tiger populations across the world was seen in 2010, with an estimated 3,200 living in the wild. This staggeringly low number is harshened by the contrasting figure seen in 1900, whereby an estimation of 100,000 tigers were thought to exist on the planet.

As a result of this, conservation measures were taken. In 2010, 13 countries with tiger populations, including India, signed an agreement to preserve and double their tiger populations by 2022, and to enhance their habitats for the future of the animals.

As part of India’s conservation efforts, the President has increased the number of protected areas within the country from 692 in 2014, to 860 in 2018. The implementation of these areas helps prevent the development of human activities spilling into the tiger’s natural habitats and ecosystems, such as urbanisation.

Urbanisation has a severely detrimental effect on tiger populations by disturbing their natural habitats. Tigers claim land and live within separate territories which they are dependent on for water, food and shelter.

Human development into these areas has caused a significant reduction territory size, decreasing the amount of prey and often forcing the tigers into starvation. The only escape is to find new territory, either by facing deadly battles in order to claim more land, or by being forced towards human villages, often to meet a fatal demise.

Indian tiger population increase

Bengal tiger

Other endangered species of tiger around the world

Many species of tiger, such as the Sumatran tiger, have seen a significant reduction in their population. In 2008, these species were classified as critically endangered by the IUCN, being now the only indigenous tiger to Indonesia. This species of tiger has seen its population halved since 1978, with around 500 tigers still in existence.

The South China Tiger has possibly become extinct within the wild, with no known sightings since the 1970s. The few that remain are now found only in captivity, which shows the importance of continued monitoring.

Sumatran Tiger

Sumatran Tiger

What can you do to preserve tiger populations in the wild?

Tigers are subjected to many human threats within the wild. These include, poaching, habitat loss and urbanisation. However, help can be given to preserve the population of tigers in the wild today!

Organisations such as WWF make it their mission to aid the conservation of tigers worldwide, and offer memberships featuring small donations to aid conservation projects.

‘Together, we can begin to restore nature and improve the state of our planet for future generations’ - WWF               

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