Decoding the tiger census 2018: Key takeaways

Decoding the tiger census 2018: Key takeaways

India is home to about 3,000 tigers making it “one of the safest habitats” for the big cat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said releasing the All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018. The tiger population has doubled from 1411 in 2006 to 2,967 in 2018, according to the report. With this India has achieved tiger population target four years ahead of the 2022 deadline.

The success even prompted the Prime Minister to invoke Bollywood. "The story which started from Ek Tha Tiger and reached to Tiger Zinda Hai, shouldn't end there,” Modi said. He stressed the need for having a healthy balance between development and the environment.

As tigers inhabit a wide variety of habitats -- from mountains to mangrove swamps, tall grasslands, to dry and moist deciduous forests -- the report divides tiger habitats into five major landscapes -- Shivalik Gangetic plains, Central India and the Eastern Ghats, Western Ghats, North Eastern Hills and Brahmaputra Flood Plains and Sundarbans. International experts in carnivore ecology were roped in by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and shared with them the advancements done for the 2018-19 tiger status assessment.


Tiger Population

2,967 – Estimated total tiger population

2,461 -- Total number of individual tigers camera-trapped

2,591 -- Tiger population estimated through capture-mark-recapture method

Tiger Survey in Numbers

3,81,400 km -- Forests surveyed for tiger signs and prey estimation 

522,996 km -- Foot surveys conducted 

317,958 -- Habitat plots sampled for vegetation and prey dung 

26,838 -- Camera trap locations spanning in 141 sites  

121,337 km – Area covered by Camera Traps 

34,858,623 – Total wildlife photographs of which 76,651 were of tigers and 51,777 were of leopards 

593,882 -- Man-days put in


Area-wise Tiger Occupancy (Average)

Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains: 646 in 2018 and 485 in 2014 

Central India and Eastern Ghats: 1033 in 2018 and 688 in 2014 

Western Ghats: 981 in 2018 and 776 in 2014   

North East Hills and Brahmaputra Plains: 219 in 2018 and 201 in 2014

Sundarbans: 88 in 2018 and 76 in 2014


Other takeaways from the report

Karnataka ranks second highest in tiger numbers.

Tiger occupancy has increased in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

New areas that were colonized by tigers in 2018 constituted 25,7092 km. This analysis suggests that loss and gain of tiger occupancy was mostly from habitat pockets that support low-density populations. Such habitats with low-density tigers, though contributing minimally to overall tiger numbers, are crucial links for gene flow and maintaining connectivity between source populations.

The poor and continuing decline in tiger status in the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha is a matter of concern.

Despite a human population of 1.35 billion and having the fastest growing economy, India has not compromised on its conservation ethos. The Project Tiger, that was initiated in 1973 with nine tiger reserves (18,278 km) has now grown to cover 502 tiger reserves (72,749 km).

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