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India home to 3,167 tigers, says PM Modi at event to mark 50 years of Project Tiger

PM Modi also released 'Amrit Kaal Ka Tiger Vision', a commemorative coin to mark '50 years of Project Tiger'
Last Updated 09 April 2023, 11:46 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that India currently has 3,167 tigers, at a programme to commemorate 50 years of Project Tiger in Mysuru on Sunday.

"At a time when India is celebrating 75 years of Independence, the tiger population in India has increased by 75 per cent in the past decade. 75 per cent of the world's tiger population is in India in tiger reserves spreads over 75,000 sq km. The country has many unique achievements in wildlife conservation because India is a country where protecting nature is a part of the culture," he said.

He released the report- 'Status of Tigers in India 2022' (which revealed there were 2,967 tigers in 2018, 2,226 in 2014, 1,706 in 2010 and 1,411 in 2006). He addressed over 1,000 international and national delegates and experts at the event hosted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) at the Convocation hall of KSOU (Karnataka State Open University) in Mysuru.

He said, "India occupies 2.4 per cent of the world's land area, but it contributes 8 per cent of the known global biodiversity. India is the largest tiger range country in the world. With nearly 30,000 elephants, India is the largest Asiatic elephant range country in the world. India has the world's largest population of 30,000 single-horn rhinos. India is the only country to have Asiatic lions and their population has increased from 525 in 2015 to 675 in 2020. The leopard population went up by 60 per cent in just four years. Work done to clean rivers like Ganga helped biodiversity and aquatic species considered to be endangered."

PM Modi said, "For wildlife to thrive, the ecosystem must thrive. This is happening in India. While celebrating the 75th year of Independence, India added 11 wetlands to its Ramsar sites taking its total number to 75. Forest and tree cover is also increasing. India added over 2,200 sq km of forest and tree cover by 2021 when compared to 2019. In the last decade, the number of community reserves increased from 43 to 100, and in the same period national parks and sanctuaries around which eco-sensitive zones were notified increased from 9 to 468."

"In several tiger range countries either the tiger population is static or is going extinct. But in India, its population is growing at such a fast pace. India has not just protected tigers, it has also given them an effective ecosystem for their growth. Importance is given to the coexistence of economy and ecology here. All this has mainly been possible due to people's participation, and their natural emotion towards biodiversity. People especially tribal communities like Bharias from Central India and Werley from Maharashtra worship nature and animals and consider animals as their kin. Tiger is the vehicle of Goddess Durga and lord Aiyappa. India's historical relationship with tigers dates back to thousands of years and this has been evident with the 10,000-year-old rock art of tigers found in Maharashtra. Due to Project Tiger in the tiger reserve, there is an improvement in tourist activity. Also, it has led to an increase in awareness which has helped reduce man-animal conflict."

"My long experience as CM also helped me in achieving this motto of wildlife conservation since I worked in the protection of lions. In order to protect nature, it is important to build emotional relationships between people and animals. So, we launched the 'Vanya Prani Mithra' programme there to prevent poaching and kept a cash reward and made them strongly feel that "if there is a lion, we are there" (Lion hai toh hum hai). We even started a lion rehab centre at Gir and filled women's foresters' posts in Gir. That is how there is a good ecosystem for eco-tourism in Gir," he added.

During the programme, PM Modi also released 'Amrit Kaal Ka Tiger Vision', a commemorative coin to mark '50 years of Project Tiger', the fifth cycle report of 'Management, Effective and Evaluation of Tigers in India 2022' (taken up in 53 tiger reserves once in four years). He even launched the 'International Big cat alliance' (involving 97 range countries).

Union minister for forest and environment and Chairperson of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Bhupender Yadav, said, "Tiger reserves in the country are not just protecting tigers and their habitat they are also playing a major role in conserving and restoring wildlife species which are on the verge of extinction, and maintaining ecological balance."

Union minister of State for environment, forest and climate change, and consumer affairs, food and public distribution, Ashwini Kumar Choubey were present.

Ministers from other countries and states, and several national and international experts are participating in the event. They are discussing a range of topics from conservation, eco-development, eco-tourism, and habitat management to human-wildlife conflict at the three-day conference.

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(Published 09 April 2023, 07:39 IST)

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