March 17, 2023: What is Project Tiger? What did the latest tiger census data reveal? How is it done?
The latest tiger census data released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has revealed that the tiger population in India has reached 3,167 in 2022. The previous few censuses were as follows:
1,411 in 2006
1,706 in 2010
2,226 in 2014
2,967 in 2018
Which means, the census collected last year holds a testament to a steady improvement in terms of animal numbers, almost at a rate of 6.7%.
Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains were a few of the places which logged the most significant increments in the tiger population, while Uttar Pradesh’s Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary and northwest of Yamuna in Himachal Pradesh were the newest regions discovered. Tiger occupancy in the Western Ghats declined, with significant drops observed in the Wayanad landscape, the Biligiriranga Hills, Northeast Hills, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana.
Periyar Tiger Reserve (TR), Kerala was ranked as the best maintained Tiger Reserve in India, followed by Satpura TR (Madhya Pradesh), Bandipur and Nagarhole (Karnataka). Fortunately, the Nilgiri cluster (Nagarahole to Biligiriranga Hills) is, now, the largest tiger population in the world.
Our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the ‘International Big Cat Alliance’ during the inauguration of the commemoration of 50 years of ‘Project Tiger’. The new campaign aims at protecting and increasing the numbers, and encouraging more such programmes at local and global events to conserve seven major big cats worldwide, including tigers and lions.
The IBCA project is a part of India’s efforts to protect and conserve the big cats, as emphasised by our Prime Minister. The outline of his vision for the next 25 years, as a part of the global conservation programme, has been published in a booklet named ‘Amrit Kaal Ka Tiger Vision’.
‘Project Tiger’ is a special tiger conservation programme launched on April 1, 1973 in India, aimed at protecting and increasing the tiger population in the country. The project, initially starting with nine tiger reserves spreading over 18,278 sq km, currently, covers 53 tiger reserves now, spanning more than 75,000 sq km, which is approximately 2.4% of India’s geographical area.
Tiger censuses are conducted once every four years (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018) by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), in partnership with state forest departments, conservation NGOs, and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
After the pugmark surveys were found to be unreliable, the double sampling method was introduced in 2006, and is the most prevalent testing used in the national tiger census, which involves ground-based surveys and camera-trap images. In the first two phases, signs of tiger presence, such as scat and pugmarks, are gathered.
For the third phase, the information is plotted on a forest map, and equipped with remote sensing and GIS (Geographic Information System.
For the final phase, the data are extrapolated to untraceable areas where cameras could not be employed for trap images.