GIS for strengthening Tiger Conservation

GIS for strengthening Tiger Conservation

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New Delhi, India, November 01, 2007: Project Tiger, now the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has been in the process of refining the All India tiger estimation since 2002. A pilot project was undertaken in the Satpura landscape of Madhya Pradesh, and the estimation protocol was jointly finalized as collaborative initiative with the State Government and the Wildlife Institute of India. The process was totally funded, implemented and monitored by the NTCA, in collaboration with Wildlife Institute of India and all the 17 tiger States. To complement the process, assessment of tiger habitat status in the country was done at Taluka level in the GIS domain, in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India. Further, a comparative appraisal of forest cover status in and around tiger reserves (up to a radial distance of 10 kms), in collaboration with the Forest Survey of India for evolving reserve specific restorative strategies involving local people in the peripheral / buffer areas, was undertaken.

The present study is based on robust scientific process and is a benchmark. The estimated tiger population as per the estimation carried out during 2001-02 was about 3642, out of which, 1576 tigers were in the tiger reserves/ Protected Areas and 2066 were estimated in the forests outside tiger reserves/Protected Areas. The indication emerging from the present exercise, which though not comparable to earlier used methods, is that, the tiger population may be in the range of 1300- 1500 in the country. The study further indicates that the tiger population in tiger reserves and protected areas has changed marginally but in forest areas outside tiger reserves/Protected Areas, has sharply declined. This is due to degradation of habitat and various other limiting factors. The protection status in tiger reserves and other areas is not up to the desired level, on account of frontline staff vacancies and ageing of staff, due to the policy of non-recruitment in several States. The results of the ongoing survey being conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India, in its efforts to estimate and evaluate tiger populations in Project Tiger areas, protected areas and tiger landscapes, needs to be discussed, particularly in relation to urgent follow up action that is required to be taken in areas that have shown serious losses of wild tigers.

The following urgent measures have been taken for strengthening tiger conservation:

  • For strengthening protection in important tiger reserves, central assistance is being provided for creation of “tiger protection force” comprising of ex-army personnel and native workforce, complementing the efforts of field staff and existing protection initiatives.
  • State Chief Ministers have been addressed at the level of the Prime Minister for filling up of frontline field staff vacancies.
  • Process has been initiated for enhancing the village relocation package for creation of inviolate areas in tiger reserves, and criteria have been finalized for determining such spaces. The Planning Commission has accorded in-principle approval for additionalities in the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger, which, inter alia, includes enhanced village relocation package.
  • Guidelines for preparation of tiger conservation plan to ensure viable population of tiger has been finalized.
  • States have been asked to delineate buffer zones around core areas of tiger reserves in a time bound manner for mainstreaming tiger concerns in the landscape.
  • Creating trans border policies for South Asia and ensuring the implementation of the recent Resolution proposed by India, Nepal, China and Russian Federation and adopted in the recent 14th Conference of Parties to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
  • Eco tourism guidelines have been finalized to benefit local communities.