India records 6.74% increase in tiger numbers since 2018

By Jayashree Nandi, Karnataka : The number of tigers in India has increased by 6.74% from 2,967 in 2018 to 3,167 now, according to the latest census data released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Karnataka’s Mysuru on the occasion of 50 years of Project Tiger on Sunday.

There were 1,411 tigers in 2006; 1,706 in 2010; 2,226 in 2014 and 2,967 in 2018. There has been a 124.45% increase in tiger numbers since 2006 according to the estimation results.

PM Modi also released a vision document on Tigers during the Amrit Kaal; a commemorative coin of ₹50 and the 5th cycle of evaluation of tiger reserves in India. He also launched an International Big Cat Alliance for the conservation of seven big cats which include tigers, leopards, cheetahs, lions, snow leopards, pumas and jaguars. Around 97 range countries can be member states of this alliance and it will focus on preventing the extinction of these big cats due to various threats including climate change. It will drive benchmarking of big cat conservation practices and create a corpus of funds for the conservation of big cats.

The number of tiger reserves has gone up from 28 in 2006 to 51 today. PM Modi said strong conservation management in India has resulted in a 29% increase of the Lion population in Gujarat (674 in 2020 compared to 523 in 2015). The widely distributed Leopard population has seen an increase of about 63% (from 7,910 in 2014 to 12,852 in 2018). The country successfully achieved the world’s first-ever wild-to-wild transcontinental translocation of a big cat (Cheetah) in 2022 and reversed a historic wrong of the extinction of Cheetah. India has also achieved zero poaching of one-horned rhinoceros in Assam.

PM Modi called upon international guests from all tiger range countries to pay attention to the unique lifestyles of tribal communities in the Western Ghats who conserve biodiversity and live in harmony with nature in the region. He recollected the Oscar-winning documentary, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, which was also based in Mudumalai National Park, which PM Modi visited earlier in the day.

“We do not see any conflict between ecology and economy in India,” he said in his address while stating that this was borne out by the fact that tiger numbers are consistently increasing in India.

India had 2,967 tigers in 2018, or 7 out of every 10 big cats in the wild in the world, according to the All-India Tiger Estimation Results released in 2019.

The number reflects a 33% increase over 2014 when there were 2,226 tigers in the country. That number itself was an improvement over 2010 (1,706) and 2006 (1,411). In the span of 12 years, India had more than doubled its number of tigers, a feat that one expert attributed to “sovereign funding and field staff”.

Madhya Pradesh had the highest number with 526 tigers (308 in 2014), followed by 524 (406) in Karnataka and 442 (340) in Uttarakhand. (The Hindustan Times)