As India's tiger count touches 2,967, Maharashtra sees 40 percent rise

Updated: Jul 30, 2019, 07:51 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

A tiger census report released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi reveals that the count has increased by 741 over the 2,226 recorded in 2014

Maharashtra has seen an increase in the count from 190 in 2014 to 312 in 2018. Representation pic
Maharashtra has seen an increase in the count from 190 in 2014 to 312 in 2018. Representation pic

A report released by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) — Status of Tigers in India-2018 — has revealed that the country currently has 2,967 tigers as compared to 2,226 in 2014. While Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka top the list with 526 and 524 tigers respectively, Maharashtra too has recorded a 40 per cent increase in the count from 190 in 2014 to the current 312.

While the numbers have evoked mixed reactions from conservationists, they feel that an increase in the count also means added responsibility in monitoring and protecting the national animal. The National Tiger Conservation Authority comes out with a tiger census report every four years. The authority had divided India's tiger bearing habitats into five major landscapes — Shivalik Gangetic Plain, Central India and Eastern Ghats, Western Ghats, North Eastern Hills and Brahmaputra Flood Plains and Sundarbans, which included 381,400 km of forested habitats.

According to the report, Madhya Pradesh has the highest tiger population with 526 of them inhabiting the state currently. The count was 308 in 2014, 257 in 2010 and 300 in 2006. Karnataka has the second highest number of tigers at 524. In 2014 the state had 406 tigers, 300 in 2010 and 290 in 2006. Similarly, Maharashtra had 190 tigers in 2014, 168 in 2010 and 103 in the year 2006.

Experts speak

Speaking to mid-day, environmental activist Bittu Sahgal, said, "There is no doubt the tiger count has increased in the best protected areas. But it is also true that the tiger-bearing forests that once covered much of India have been destroyed.

The mortality rate of tigers at the age of 24 months is very high because there is antagonism between communities and wildlife protection agencies. Local communities should be made the primary beneficiaries of biodiversity restoration." Wildlife photographer, Sarosh Lodhi, said, "A comparison with the last tiger census cannot be the only means of determining the increase in count. It must be based on the areas covered last time and in 2018."

Meanwhile, Kedar Gore, conservationist and director of The Corbett Foundation, said, "There are some aspects I am worried about. A few states like MP, Karnataka and Maharashtra have done well as far as the count is concerned, but those like Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, (northern) West Bengal and the Northeast have dismal results. Our real success will be when the number of tigers in these states, too, shows an upward trend."

He added, "There is no corridor conservation management plan in place and even local community-based conservation efforts are lacking. With increase in the number of tigers, human-wildlife conflicts will also increase. The higher counts should not bring in complacency but give a boost to all departments to enhance their capacities towards wildlife protection."

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