ALMOST hunted down to extinction a century ago, the tiger’s remarkable comeback in India is one of the biggest success stories of its kind anywhere in the world. Look around and you can’t miss an encounter with the new poster-boy of our wildlife.
Tiger is flourishing supremely well in some of the most wellknown national parks of India, be it Corbett, Ranthambore, Nagarhole, Bandhavgarh or Tadoba. Thanks to the social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, this mesmerising big cat has made inroads among the masses. Hundreds of new tiger pictures and videos get circulated among people almost on the daily basis.
The heroic struggle:
All this points to the hypnotic pull of the tiger. On July 29, the Global Tiger Day, the big cat is celebrated across the globe. But little do many of us know about the heroic struggle it had to undergo to stay afloat. Of course successive governments, both at the Centre and states, put in their resources to help the tiger survive.
The year 2006 was, perhaps, the bleakest for the tiger when its population in India plummeted to just 1,411. The future for the big cat looked ominous. All signs pointed to its going the way of the dodo. To add to the mood of nationwide gloom, it was during this period that two national parks, Sariska and Panna, lost all their tigers to poachers. It was as if death warrant was finally written for the tiger in India and there was no way it could be revoked.
Modi Govt efforts
While Project Tiger, the first concerted effort by any government to save the tiger, was launched in 1973, the ongoing NDA Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi accelerated these efforts. And the results have been spectacular – in 2018, the tiger population in the country rose to an impressive 2,967. But the best was yet to come. In April this year, PM Modi released the latest tiger census and it came out to be a whopping 3,167! Thankfully, Sariska and Panna – where tigers were relocated from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, respectively – have been doing exceedingly well with healthy tiger population.
Problem of plenty
But now, the pendulum has swung the other way. In many parts of India, the tiger is facing the problem of plenty. While the carrying capacity of tigers in national parks and sanctuaries remains the same, the ‘excess’ tigers are pushed out of forest cover after infighting with other tigers. This has led to increased man-tiger conflicts in places such as Tadoba and Pilibhit.
The problem is tough but not insurmountable. One possible solution, and several states have already started work on it, is creation of ‘tiger corridors’ linking one forest with another (such as Kanha and Pench, or Bandhavgarh and Achanakmarg). These corridors serve to ease the pressure on tigers, helping them move to other forests and prevent accidental killings of humans.