India home to 2,967 tigers, 33% jump from last count

India home to 2,967 tigers, 33% jump from last count

Prime Minister Narendra Modi releases the fourth cycle of All India Tiger Estimation 2018. (Video Grab)

Tiger is burning bright in India, and there are glowing numbers to back it up. The country is now home to nearly 3,000 tigers, an increase of a third over the figure in 2014.

According to the latest tiger census report, there were 2,967 tigers in India in 2018 compared to 2,226 in 2014 – an increase of 741 tigers in the last four years.

However, when it comes to tiger numbers, Karnataka is no longer the king. The state has lost its pole position to Madhya Pradesh, which has surged ahead with 526 tigers closely followed by Karnataka at 524 and Uttarakhand coming in at number three spot with 442 tigers.

Releasing results of the fourth cycle of all India tiger estimation, 2018, on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoted titles of two Bollywood potboilers to drive home the point.

“The story that began with ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ to reach ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ should not end there. We have to realise that these majestic animals face dire challenges from an ever decreasing and disturbed habitat and illegal trade and traffic,” he said. 

The central government introduced a scientific way of counting the number of striped cats nearly 15 years ago by doing away with the traditional pug-mark based system, which often threw up misleading numbers.

The first census in 2006 gave a figure of 1,411 tigers, revealing a critical decline in the number of big cats in the country’s forests.

A series of conservation initiatives ensued, resulting in the doubling of the number in 12 years.

The 33% rise in tiger numbers is the highest ever recorded between cycles, which stood at 21% between 2006 and 2010 and 30% between 2010 and 2014. The rise in tiger numbers was in conformity with the average annual growth rate of tigers since 2006. Chhattisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in their tiger numbers while tigers numbers in Odisha remained constant.

The five tiger landscapes – Shivalik and Gangetic plains, Central India, Western Ghats, Northeast and Brahmaputra plains and Sunderbans – exhibited a rise in the tiger count with central India recording the highest increment.

Wildlife scientists expected numbers to stagnate in Karnataka primarily because of the space crunch in bigger parks. The Western Ghats harbour 981 tigers with Tamil Nadu (264) and Kerala (190) contributing significantly to the count.

The doubling of tiger number was achieved much before the 2022 target, fixed at the World Tiger Summit held at St Petersburg in 2010.

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