Are big cat claims exaggerated?

Are big cat claims exaggerated?

new tiger statistics

In 2006, the number of tigers in India was estimated to be 1,411, which increased to 1,706 in 2010. According to 2011 census, India has half the population of tigers in its landmass.

A recent census, which has caused much amazement, shows a 30 per cent increase in tiger population. Government, civil societies and other bodies, structured only for tiger protection, have shown both complacence and concern regarding these statistics.
Filmmaker Krishnendu Bose has made many films on wildlife and his most acclaimed film, The Forgotten Tigers (2014) released before the new statistics, made a pertinent point. “The tiger population has increased dramatically, but this has not happened uniformly, is what people haven’t questioned. Only certain major forest reserves have shown improvement,” says Bose.

According to India’s Project Tiger report, the big cat population has increased in Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Mudumalai-Bandipur-Nagarhole-Wayanad belt across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala holds the world’s single largest tiger population with an estimated 570 tigers.

“There are few reserve forests in India and increase in these certain pockets have also led to a spillover of tigers. Since mining has been allowed just outside these reserved forests the buffer area has reduced and tigers are going outside their territory. If the capacity of a reserve is 50 and it has 60 tigers, 10 will spill outside the boundaries of the forest,” says Bose.
Bose names the Tadoba National Park where this has happened and has been documented in his film. Dr Shekhar Kumar Niraj, head Traffic India, WWF says, “Mining, poaching, trafficking, translocations etc are the major concerns which came to mind when I read the news of the new census.”
He explains that mining is extremely harmful for all animals and humans living near the forest. It deteriorates the land quality and vegetation and reduces the territory of tigers because of which they go into areas around the forest. This increases conflict with humans and also leads to unhindered poaching. In such a scenario it becomes difficult to make a database of tiger population, he says.“Security is still not strong in the forests which are near the borders of states, as in the case of Kaziranga, Sunderban. These issues should be addressed,” he adds.
Bose says “The ‘population increase data’ on paper has still not arrived, it is scheduled for March. I feel in some way it is overestimated. I don’t mean that there hasn’t been an increase, but from my research, 30 per cent seems a bit large. Also, I want the authorities to focus their attention towards the issue of tigers living outside the reserve forests.” Dr Niraj says that through the years he spent in wildlife protection he has felt a “shift in the attitude of people towards wildlife which has led to the increase.” 

The Wildlife Protection Act was introduced in 1972 and significant improvements have been witnessed. Bose says, “As a filmmaker, I feel that technology is also something that has improved dramatically and not only the attitude. Tigers have hit the headlines, but there are several species which have recently gotten extinct that no one has talked about. I made the film on tigers to bring out a bigger picture of wildlife in India.”

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