The increased numbers of tigers is a healthy sign
The population of tigers in India has increased from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018, a rise of 33 per cent
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
To mark the International Tiger Day Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a report titled “Management Effectiveness & Evaluation of Tiger reserves”. With around 3,000 tigers, India has become “one of the safest habitats” for the big cats in the world.
The population of tigers in India has increased from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018, a rise of 33 per cent, according to the latest tiger census report. India has achieved its 2022 target of tiger population in the country. It is a great achievement that India has now has 2,967 tigers, declared the All India Tiger Estimation Report.
Hunting and killing of animals had become a form of recreation. Murdering humans is considered a crime. But killing and wiping out an entire genre is hardly given consideration. Like forests, wildlife is also a national resource, which not only helps us in maintaining the ecological balance but is also beneficial from economic, recreational and aesthetic points of view.
There was a time when human interference was minimum the number of wild animals was quite high and there was no problem of their protection or conservation. But, with the expansion of agriculture, settlement, industrial and other developmental activities and mainly due to greed of man, the number of wild animals is gradually decreasing day by day.
We must understand that the wildlife is a precious gift from God to this planet. The term ‘wildlife’ not only caters to wild animals but also takes into account all undomesticated life forms including birds, insects, plants, fungi and even microscopic organisms.
For maintaining a healthy ecological balance on this earth, animals, plants and marine species are as important as humans. Hunting has tradition and the support of very powerful people on its side and with their influence hunting has been left untouched by legislation – the Protection of Animals Act only covers captive and domestic animals.
High officials, who are supposed to be the guardians of law, often abuse their powers to shield the rich and powerful. Our country is unique in having a significant number of tigers in the wild, in spite of growing population and resource extraction pressures on their habitat. Tigers are the heritage of our country, evoked in the vedas, puranas and much other literature for their unparalleled strength and aesthetic beauty.
The destruction of forest coverage by Maoists may be one of the reasons for this decrease. Wild animal deaths were also reported from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttarakhand. No doubt, the world wild life Fund is the international agency, which is doing commendable work in promoting the protection of wildlife and there are number of national agencies engaged in the conservation of wildlife.
The population of big cats in the country has risen steadily since falling to its lowest-recorded figure of 1,411 in 2006. PM Modi has rightly said that “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.”
Modi has rightly stressed that “In our policies, in our economics, we have to change the conversation about conservation.” According to the census, Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of tigers at 526, closely followed by Karnataka at 524 and Uttarakhand at number 3 with 442 tigers.
While announcing the results, Modi has clearly pointed out that the country would strike a healthy balance between development and the environment. It is clear that “India will build more homes for our citizens and at the same time create quality habitats for animals. India will have a vibrant marine economy and healthier marine ecology. This balance is what will contribute to a strong and inclusive India.”
We should know that we are not just animals, but that we belong to the same family tree as other mammals, that our physiology and bodily processes are just like theirs, and that our mental processes too are from the same general pattern. The protection of the national animal has been a significant achievement till now. Hope this continues and leads to a significant rise in the coming years among animals, some are fewer in number than the others, if proper care and security are extended to them, the rare animals would survive. Only the future can tell whether national animal will survive to maintain the much-needed ecological balance. If we delay now, it might be too late.
Tigers play a large role in sustaining the biodiversity of forests, in maintaining healthy ecology, habitat conservation and the livelihoods of rural communities. The tiger population has decreased in the states of Telengana and Andhra Pradesh. The destruction of forest coverage by Maoists may be one of the reasons for this decrease. Wild tiger deaths were also reported from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttarakhand.
During the first six months of the year, 30 deaths were reported. The protection of the national animal has been a significant achievement till now. Hope this continues and leads to a significant rise in the coming years. Credit must also be given to Aircel for initiating “Save Tiger” campaign, along with New Delhi Television (NDTV), who played an active role in creating awareness among the people on dwindling tiger population in India. The number of wild tigers has gone up to 3,890, from the earlier 2010 estimate of 3200, according to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum.
A new Tiger commando force should be created to protect tigers from the poachers. Government must try to put in more efforts to improve the arrangements to conserve the national pride – the Tiger. In the words of PM Modi, the story that started with Ek Tha Tiger and then continued with Tiger Zinda Hai, should not stop there. It should be baaghon mein bahaar hai.”
(The writer is based in Ahmadabad)