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Conservation efforts pay off as India's tiger population increases by almost a third

Some 26,000 camera traps took almost 350,000 images across known tiger habitats.

Tigers are an endangered species worldwide.
Tigers are an endangered species worldwide.
Image: Shutterstock/PhotocechCZ

INDIA’S WILD TIGER population has increased by more than 30% in the last four years, according to a census released today, raising hopes for the endangered species. 

In what Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed as a “historic achievement,” the census found 2,967 tigers in the wild across the country, up from 2,226 four years ago.

“We reaffirm our commitment towards protecting the tiger,” Modi said in Delhi at the release of the latest census.

“Some 15 years ago, there was serious concern about the decline in the population of tigers. It was a big challenge for us but with determination, we have achieved our goals.”

The surveys are conducted every four years, with the latest census, spanning 15 months and using 26,000 camera traps that took almost 350,000 images across known tiger habitats, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said in announcing its release.

Images that showed the cats were analysed using computer programmes to individually identify each creature. 

Wildlife and forestry officials also scoured 380,000km sq of terrain.

In 1900, more than 100,000 tigers were estimated to roam the planet but that fell to a record low of 3,200 globally in 2010.

That year, India and 12 other countries with tiger populations signed an agreement to double their big cat numbers by 2022.

Population numbers in the nation have risen steadily since falling to a record low of 1,411 in 2006 – they are yet to return to the tally of 2002 when some 3,700 tigers were estimated to be alive in the country.

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Wildlife experts lauded the government effort and said the rise in numbers heralded a new chapter in the conservation of big cats in India.

“The scale and magnitude of the assessment is unparallelled globally,” Global Tiger Forum secretary-general Rajesh Gopal said.

Authorities across Asia are waging a battle against poachers, who sell tiger body parts to the lucrative traditional Chinese medicine market, as well as other man-made problems such as habitat loss.

New Delhi has sought to improve its management of the predator, reserving 50 habitats – from Himalayan foothills in the northeast to parts of west and central India - exclusively for the animals.

With reporting from - © AFP 2019.

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