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| Last Updated:: 24/05/2019

Despite Project Tiger’s success, more is needed to protect the big cat





In a disturbing trend, tigers in the country are increasingly being killed by snares, even in the core areas of sanctuaries. In the last nine years, 24 tigers and 114 leopards have suffered slow, agonising deaths due to these traps. Worryingly, apart from poachers local communities are also using these wire noose snares to kill the big cats preying on their livestock. This indicates growing man-animal conflict which threatens to reverse the gains made by tiger conservation in the country. There has been a steady increase in the tiger population in the last few years and India had 2,226 tigers as per the 2014 All India Tiger Estimation. This accounts for a 60% jump in tiger population compared to 2006.




However, protecting these gains is proving to be a challenge in the face of growing encroachment of forests and erosion of tiger corridors. Tigers need large habitats as they have high juvenile dispersal rates. But growing human populations and careless development are curtailing this, confining tiger populations to certain pockets. In fact, tigers have lost more than 93% of their historical range. All of this is a recipe for man-animal conflict, providing impetus for dastardly snare traps to kill or injure tigers.




Thus, India’s Project Tiger may have been successful in preventing the decimation of the species. But sustaining and growing tiger populations is the next big challenge. The latter can only be addressed through a holistic approach to preserving and expanding tiger habitats. True, this is easier said than done given the pressure on land from human development. But Project Tiger 2.0 needs to focus on things like proper zoning to keep development away from sanctuaries. For the time being, efforts must be directed towards protecting tigers from snares. Anti-snare exercises using metal detectors must be operationalised in all tiger reserves forthwith.






Source: The Times of India - Chennai, 23/05/2019; Section: Editorial, Page: 14