By Krishna koundaniya

Edited by Anandita Malhotra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist

Recently, we were greeted with soothing news that tiger population has jumped up by 30% in about 4 years. After an extensive campaign for conservation of tiger population by the Government, we are relieved that instead of further nose diving there is an actual improvement in the big cat’s population. How was this done? What are the historical underpinnings?

In the nature, leaving the humans and the domestic ones aside, the rest of the ecosystem is considered wild. With respect to the food chain of wild life, the tigers are those carnivores which stand at the top.

Tigers occupy an important place in the Indian culture. Since the ages, it has been a symbol of magnificence, power, beauty and fierceness and has been associated with bravery and valor. The tiger also has a significant place in Hindu religion as the vehicle of The Great Goddess Durga.

As per the estimates, there were nearly 40, 000 tigers in our country at the start of 20th century. Due to the combined work of both British fun and poaching, this magnificent creature had a very ill fate in terms of its survival. The very first tiger census in the year 1972 showed that the total number of tigers left in the country were just 1827. It was an alarming reduction to the in Tiger population. This was such a huge loss to the nation and to the wild life ecosystem.

Then in the year 1973, the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi launched a program called Project Tiger for saving the number.

Project Tiger is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, providing central assistance to the Tiger States for the conservation of Tigers in their respective Tiger reserves.

This project is administered by The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) since then. Till the year 2008, the number hadn’t been much of a difference as the census of the year 2008 gives a total number of tigers left in the country were 1,411 only.

The funds allocated for Project Tiger during the XII Plan was Rs: 1245 crore. From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 45 at present, spread out in 18 tiger range states. This amounts to around 2.08% of the geographical area of our country.

So due to the combined effort of CBI, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the police department, the NTCA could try to blockade the poaching activities to a  very considerable extent.

It was achieved by the implementation the following set of actions:

  1. Alerting the States as and when required.
  2. Transmitting backward / forward linkages of information relating to poachers.
  3. Advising the States for combing forest floor to check snares / traps.
  4. Performing supervisory field visits through the National Tiger Conservation Authority and its regional offices.
  5. Providing assistance to States for anti-poaching operations.
  6. Using information technology for improved surveillance (e-Eye system) using thermal cameras launched in Corbett.
  7. Launching tiger reserve level monitoring using camera trap to keep a photo ID database of individual tigers.
  8. Preparing a national database of individual tiger photo captures to establish linkage with body parts seized or dead tigers.
  9. Assisting States to refine protection oriented monitoring through monitoring system for tiger’s intensive protection and ecological status (M-STrIPES).
  10. Providing grant through NTCA for patrolling in tiger rich sensitive forest areas outside tiger reserves.
  11. Assisting States to deploy local workforce in a big way for protection to complement the efforts of field staff [In all, approximately 24 lakh man-days are generated annually with 50% central assistance amounting to around Rs: 24 crores (excluding matching 50% share given by States) under Project Tiger. Many local tribes constitute such local workforce (besides non-tribal)].
  12. Supporting States for raising, arming and deploying the Special Tiger Protection Force.

Due to the proper implementation of the 12 actions taken by NTCA, the tiger’s count increased considerably. From nine 9 reserves started back in 1973, increased to 45 at present, spread out in 18 tiger range states.  From 1,141 tigers in the year 2008 had been increased to a tremendous amount of 2,226 according to the census in January 20th of the year 2015. From the last estimate of 1,706 tigers in the year 2010, the present increase is 30.5%.

The Pride of India, The Bengal Tigers known for its physical features and its fierce nature makes it stand at top 2 positions of the world. The male ones attain a total length of 270 to 310 am and weigh between 180 to 258 kg and the female ones attain a total length of 240 to 265 cm and weigh about 240 to 265 kg. In the northern part of India and Nepal, the average is a bit larger than usual ones in south and central part of India. The males weigh up to 235 kg and the female ones weigh averagely up to 140 kg. Its total Bengal Tiger population in the whole world is nearly 2500 out of which 2226 are from our country itself.

Though poaching had not completely been eradicated, it was reduced to a very good extent

Krishna Koundiniya is an entrepreneur, Co-Founder of an e-Commerce start up. He holds MBA from IMT–Ghaziabad, B Tech gold medallist, state level boxer, cricketer, amateur musician & graphologist (AP Judiciary). He worked with Deloitte, Infosys, Vizag Steel specializing in IT, Finance. He assisted CFO, GMs in financial valuations and planning. He co-founded a robotics platform for R&D and successfully implemented home automation projects, car tracking and vibration test rigs using smart phone,,

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