INTERNATIONAL TIGER DAY 2023
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- International Tiger Day, also known as Global Tiger Day, is celebrated annually on July 29th to raise awareness about the conservation of tigers and their dwindling population in the wild.
- The day was first observed in 2010 at the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit, where representatives from 13 tiger-range countries came together to discuss ways to protect tigers and their habitats.
Importance of International Tiger Day
- Conservation Awareness: International Tiger Day aims to raise awareness about the threats faced by tigers, such as habitat loss, poaching, and illegal wildlife trade. It encourages people to take action to protect these magnificent big cats.
- Tiger Conservation Efforts: The day serves as a platform to highlight the ongoing conservation efforts and initiatives taken by governments, NGOs, and communities to safeguard tiger populations and their natural habitats.
- Global Cooperation: It emphasizes the importance of international cooperation among tiger-range countries and the global community to combat wildlife crime, improve law enforcement, and protect tiger habitats.
- Promoting Ecological Balance: Tigers are apex predators and play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance in their ecosystems. Their conservation benefits a wide range of other species and contributes to overall biodiversity.
Challenges and Goals
- Declining Tiger Population: The species has lost 93% of its historic range and in the last century, its numbers have plummeted from 1,00,000 to potentially 4,500 today.
- Habitat Protection: Tigers have lost an estimated 95% of their historical range. Their habitat has been destroyed, degraded, and fragmented by human activities. The clearing of forests for agriculture and timber, as well as the building of road networks and other development activities, pose serious threats to tiger habitats.
- Combating Poaching and Illegal Trade: Tiger poaching and illegal trade in tiger parts remain significant threats to their survival. Stronger law enforcement and international collaboration are essential to tackle this issue.
- Human-Wildlife Conflict: Human-wildlife conflict poses a challenge for tiger conservation. Finding sustainable solutions to mitigate conflicts and promote coexistence between humans and tigers is vital.
Global Initiatives for Tiger Conservation
- Petersburg Tiger Summit: Held in 2010 in St. Petersburg, Russia, this summit brought together representatives from 13 tiger-range countries to discuss strategies for tiger conservation. The participants adopted the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) that aimed to double the wild tiger population by 2022.
- Global Tiger Initiative (GTI): The GTI is a collaborative effort between governments, NGOs, and international organizations to support tiger conservation efforts. It provides technical and financial assistance to tiger-range countries and facilitates coordination among stakeholders.
- TX2: The TX2 initiative, launched by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and partners, aims to double the wild tiger population by 2022, the next Chinese Year of the Tiger. It promotes habitat protection, anti-poaching efforts, and community involvement.
- Global Tiger Forum (GTF): The GTF is an intergovernmental body that facilitates cooperation among tiger-range countries. It fosters collaboration in research, sharing of best practices, and joint initiatives for tiger conservation.
- Tigers Alive Initiative: Led by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), this initiative focuses on implementing conservation actions on the ground to safeguard tiger populations and their habitats.
- Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT): This initiative brings together governments, NGOs, and private sector entities to combat wildlife trafficking, including the illegal trade in tiger parts.
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) Tiger Project: This project supports tiger-range countries in addressing threats to tiger conservation by promoting community-based conservation and sustainable development initiatives.
- The Tiger Conservation Landscape (TCL) Program: Funded by the World Bank, this program supports habitat conservation and anti-poaching efforts in priority tiger landscapes across Asia.
- International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC): Led by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), this consortium aims to enhance the capacity of enforcement agencies to combat wildlife crime, including tiger trafficking.
Project Tiger's Success and Achievements
Ambitious Conservation Project: In 1973, the Indian Government launched Project Tiger with the aim of safeguarding the nation's tiger population and preserving biodiversity.
Expanding Coverage: From initially covering nine tiger reserves spanning 18,278 km2, the project has now grown to include 53 reserves spread across 75,796 km2, effectively covering 2.3% of India's total land area.
Significant Tiger Population: India currently houses almost 75% of the world's wild tiger population, making it a crucial global player in tiger conservation.
First Phase: Wildlife Protection Act and Protected Areas: The initial phase of Project Tiger focused on enacting the Wildlife Protection Act and establishing protected areas for tigers and tropical forests.
Second Phase: Landscape-Level Approach and Community Involvement: In response to the decline in tiger population due to extensive poaching in the 1980s, the government initiated the second phase in 2005. This phase adopted a landscape-level approach, involving local communities, implementing strict law enforcement, and utilizing modern technology for scientific monitoring.
Critical Outcomes: The second phase yielded critical outcomes, such as identifying inviolate critical core and buffer areas, designating new tiger reserves, and recognizing tiger landscapes and corridors.
Scientific Thinking and Technology: The monitoring exercise instilled scientific thinking among forest staff, and the use of technology ensured transparency in data collection and analysis.
Categorization of Tiger Habitats: India categorized tiger habitats into five major landscapes based on biogeography and interconnectivity, enabling more effective ecological and management-based strategies.
Tiger Population and Spatial Patterns:
- Increase in Tiger Population: The tiger population has shown significant growth, with an annual growth rate of 6.1%. The minimum tiger population was declared to be 3167, with the upper limit estimated at 3925 and an average of 3682 tigers.
- Regional Variations: Central India and the Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains witnessed notable increases in tiger population, particularly in states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Maharashtra.
- Localized Declines: Some regions, like the Western Ghats, have experienced localized declines, requiring targeted monitoring and conservation efforts.
- States with Small Tiger Populations: States such as Mizoram, Nagaland, Jharkhand, Goa, Chhattisgarh, and Arunachal Pradesh reported concerning trends with small tiger populations.
Challenges and Conservation Measures:
- Enhanced Protection Measures: Around 35% of tiger reserves urgently require enhanced protection measures, habitat restoration, ungulate augmentation, and subsequent tiger reintroduction.
- Eco-Friendly Development: Preserving ecological integrity necessitates continuing eco-friendly development, minimizing mining impacts, and rehabilitating mining sites.
- Protected Area Management: Fortifying protected area management and intensifying anti-poaching measures are crucial for tiger conservation.
- Scientific Data Collection: Employing scientific thinking and technology-driven data collection will aid in making informed conservation decisions.
- Addressing Human-Wildlife Conflict: Measures to address human-wildlife conflict are essential for reducing negative interactions between tigers and communities living near protected areas.
India's Project Tiger has achieved commendable success in tiger conservation over the past five decades. However, challenges like poaching still pose threats to tiger populations. Continued efforts to protect tiger habitats, preserve ecological integrity, and address conservation challenges are vital for securing the future of India's tigers and their ecosystems for generations to come.
Q. India's Project Tiger, launched in 1973, aimed at conserving tigers and preserving biodiversity, has achieved significant success over the years. Which of the following statements about Project Tiger is true?
A) The project initially covered 53 tiger reserves effectively covering 2.3% of India's total land area.
B) The second phase of Project Tiger, initiated in 2015, focused on community involvement, strict law enforcement, and scientific monitoring to ensure tiger conservation.
C) The tiger population estimate from the camera-trapped area in 2022 was 3167, with further analysis suggesting an average of 3682 tigers, reflecting an annual growth rate of 6.1%.
D) The tiger population in Central India and the Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains witnessed a decline, while the Western Ghats experienced a notable increase in tiger population.