India’s Wild Tiger Population Rose 33 Percent in Only Four Years

Thanks to conservation efforts, India now has almost 3,000 tigers living in the wild.

Aug 19, 2019

Tiger reserves and stricter wildlife policies allowed India's wild tiger population to soar 33 percent from 2014 to 2018. With almost 3,000 tigers living in the wild, India has the largest wild tiger population in the world according to the last tiger census.

The roaring news was announced at a news conference held on International Tiger Day (July 29, 2019) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had made increasing tiger conservationist efforts one of his goals. With an estimated 4,000 tigers globally, India is now home to 70 percent of the world's tigers

The worldwide tiger population has been in a steep decline for most of the last century due to hunting and loss of habitat. In India, the population decline was also caused by government-sponsored killing sprees. This mass slaughter killed 80,000 tigers in just 50 years.

To end the carnage, the government passed a law in 1972 that made it illegal to kill or capture any wild animal. And, almost a decade ago, India made doubling its Bengal tiger population by 2022 a national goal. They achieved this four years early, according to Modi's announcement.

In the past ten years, India created almost two dozen new reserves that gave the tigers space to flourish. That combined with enforcing wildlife policies can be credited for the dramatic increases.

Tigers are counted every four years in a census that utilizes cameras and video recognition software that covers a landmass of about 146,000 miles (380,000 kilometers). That's a huge amount of work for tens of thousands of Indian officials and scientists but documenting the climb in tiger population, was well worth it.

In some parts of rural India, there is strife between local village and tigers. According to The Times of India, a tigress attacked and injured nine people working in an agricultural field in Deurea near the Pilihit tiger reserve in late July. It was beaten to death by 43 people who were charged with killing a protected animal. This was far from an isolated case.

Modi believes that more land should be used to expand the tiger's habitats. "There is a very old debate — development or environment...and, both sides present views as if each is mutually exclusive," he said at the news conference.

He understands the balance that must be kept between economic development and the protection of the environment.

"In our policies, in our economics, we have to change the conversation about conservation. India will build more roads and India will have cleaner rivers. India will have better train connectivity and also greater tree coverage. 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," Modi said at the news conference.

"Let us all pledge to create a green and environmentally sustainable country. Let the tiger be that symbol of sustainability," he concluded. With this strong commitment to the conservation of India's tigers by the government, the future looks very bright for those big majestic cats.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.