Q. Recently, the government has released the Tiger Census 2022 which showed a significant increase in tiger population in India. Discuss the significance Project Tiger and also, discuss the reasons of decline in tiger population in western ghats, outlined by the tiger census 2022. (250 words).19 Apr, 2023 GS Paper 3 Bio-diversity & Environment
- Start you introduction with Tiger census and its recent findings.
- Discuss the importance of Tiger in ecosystem in short, Role of Project Tiger in its conservation and reasons behind the decline in tiger population in western ghats.
- Conclude accordingly.
Tiger census is a quadrennial survey of estimating tiger population in India released by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) under Ministry of Environment and Forests. Recently, Tiger Census 2022 was released by the Prime Minister on 50th anniversary of Project Tiger.
The report showed a significant growth in Tiger population at least by 200 to 3,167 in 2022 from the last count in 2018. While the Central Indian Highlands & Eastern Ghats Landscape witnessed a growth in the population, the Western ghats landscape suffered a decline.
Tiger and its significance for the ecosystem:
Tigers are the apex predators and an umbrella species for the ecosystem which helps maintaining ecological balance by controlling the prey population and protecting the ecosystem from overgrazing of primary producers. They ensure the ecological viability of the entire area and habitat, which also ensures the water and climate security of the region.
Significance of Project Tiger:
Project Tiger is a centrally sponsored scheme launched to conserve the tiger in 1973. Since its inception, it has proved to be very crucial in tiger conservation:
- Because of this, the country has not only saved the tiger population from declining but also provided an ecosystem where tigers can flourish.
- In 1970s the population was somewhere around 1200, which has grown to 3167 (almost tripled in 50 years).
- India is a home to largest (70%) tiger population in the world.
- It has helped India to achieve Tx2 target set by WWF (doubling tiger population by 2022), very prior to its deadline.
- It has given India to showcase its efforts in Nature’s conservation. While the whole world is seeking methods of increasing the number of tigers, India has already started achieving milestones through Project Tiger.
- Establishment of Tiger reserves has created many tourist sites and created many employment opportunities.
- India currently has 53 tiger reserves.
- Conserving forest for tiger conservation has helped India to maintain its green cover.
- It has also provided shelter to many tribal populations.
What are the reasons behind the decrease in population in western ghats region?
As per the latest report, the tiger population witnessed in the tiger population in some areas of western ghats such as Waynad landscape, Biligirirangan (BRT) Hills. The population here has declined from 981 (2018 estimates) to 824 (2022 estimates). The main reasons behind this decline are:
- Human-wildlife conflict in the region (There has been an increase of over a thousand incidents of man-animal conflict in Kerala's Western Ghats region in 2016-2022)
- High mortality rates among cubs
- Threats from invasive species
- Insufficient prey population in many reserves
- Infrastructure development that impedes movement of the animal
Tiger being an ecologically significant species, is a culturally important species as well. The importance of the can be observed by the very fact of being adopted as National animal of India in 1973. Since then, India has launched several initiatives for the conservation of big cats, and they have undoubtedly been successful in increasing the tiger population. But there is still a need to do more in this aspect as to prevent human- wildlife conflict, poaching, disease prevention and sustainable infrastructural development.
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