Thursday, March 31, 2011

India's Latest Tiger Census Shows Increase in the Nation's Population

A tiger in Ranthambore National Park

Recently, a census in monitoring India's tigers has shown that the population has increased by 225 animals since 2007. The government estimates that the tiger population has increased to 1,636 from 1,411 animals in 2007. The results were released at a two-day International Tiger Conservation Conference, which is being held in New Delhi. This conference is hosted by the government, and is being held in collaboration with the Global Tiger Forum and the Global Tiger Initiative. Participants included leaders from all thirteen Asian tiger range countries, scientists, and conservation organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and the Wildlife Trust of India. At its opening, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh stated that an estimated thirty percent of the population is outside India's 39 tiger reserves. He further added that there is a considerable rise in tiger population in the South India, where the state of Karnataka holds the highest figure of 320 tigers. The count was conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) with key NGOs in the nation's largest tiger conservation survey ever undertaken. According to Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid, India was a late comer to the industrial revolution compared to western nations. He further added, saying that development and environment will have to work together in order to ensure the tiger's future.

Other members expressed their hopes at the results. These included Jim Leape, International Director General for WWF, and Azzedine Downes, IFAW's executive vice president. At the same time, they presented their ideas on how to make a successful recovery. Mike Baltzer of WWF's Tigers Alive Initiative proclaimed that strong protection of core tiger areas and areas that link them should be strongly protected, as well as proper and effective management in surrounding areas. One particular person who is on the front lines in the tiger conservation is Vivek Menon, Wildlife Trust of India's executive director and IFAW's regional director in South Asia. He stated that he and his organization has provided training to more than 8500 frontline staff, and their field officers played a crucial role in securing tiger habitats by granting them protected area status.

I'm very happy to see that the tiger population in India has increased fairly exponentially over these past four years. However, that is not to say that it is always a good news for both the people and wildlife. Based on what Minister Ramesh stated upon receiving the census' results, there may be tigers thriving in areas that may not be protected. This is could also mean there are village communities whose residents are vulnerable to the danger of tiger attacks. This would deeply affect the global project in bringing the species back from the brink of extinction, as people would resort to have problematic animals killed which would change the course of population growth. That is why, as put by Minister Khurshid, both environment and development must work together as part of the goal in doubling the tiger population by 2022. If one dominates over another, the consequences will be disastrous.

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