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: