Status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India, 2018
In 2018, the tiger population in India was 2,967 – says the report Status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimated the global tiger population to be 3,190 in its Red List of Threatened Species of 2015.
Published in July 2019, this report is the fourth
nationwide survey of the status of tigers undertaken every four years since
2006. The assessment is conducted by the government of India’s National Tiger
Conservation Authority (NTCA) alongside state forest departments, various non-governmental
organisations and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun. The authors of
the present report are A. K. Nayak of the NCTA, along with Q. Qureshi and Y. V.
Jhala of the WII.
The report contains data collected from five ‘tiger-bearing
habitats’: Shivalik Gangetic plains; Central India and Eastern Ghats; Western
Ghats; North Eastern Hills and Brahmaputra Flood Plains; and the Sundarbans. The
report generates estimates based on photos from 26,838 camera traps of 2,461 individual tigers,
as well as information on prey, habitat and anthropogenic factors.
The publication is divided into six sections:
Introduction (section 1); Methods (section 2); Data Analysis (section 3);
Results (section 4); Conservation Implications (section 6).
An area of 381,400 square kilometres of forest land across 20 states was examined for this report. A distance of 522,996 kilometres was surveyed on foot for signs of carnivorous animals, and to identify areas with abundant preys. Camera traps were set up at 141 sites covering 121,337 square kilometres, and they took a total of 76,651 tiger photographs.
In places where camera traps could not be set up due to unfavourable law and order conditions or other issues, the minimum number of tigers was estimated through analysis of genomic DNA samples.
The report notes an annual six per cent increase in the population of tigers between 2006-18.
In 2018, the tiger population was estimated to be 646 in the Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains habitats – an increase of 161 tigers since the last assessment in 2014. The states of Bihar, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are included in this habitat.
The number of tigers in the Central India and Eastern Ghats habitat increased by 345 between 2014 and 2018. In 2018, about 1,033 tigers were recorded in the region, which covers eight states: Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana.
The tiger population in the Western Ghats habitat comprising of areas in Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, was estimated to be 981 in 2018. This is 205 tigers more since the last assessment in 2014.
The tiger population in the North East Hills and Brahmaputra Plains habitat was 219 in 2018 – an increase of 18 tigers since 2014. This habitat includes areas in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland and northern West Bengal.
About 88 tigers were recorded in the Sundarbans in the 2018 – 12 more than the 2014 estimates.
Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka show the highest tiger populations among the states at 526 and 524 respectively.
The number of tigers in Chhattisgarh and Odisha has decreased considerably over the years. Chhattisgarh reported a drop in its tiger population from 72 in 2010, to 19 in 2018. Odisha marked a decrease from 32 tigers in 2010, to 28 in 2018.
Ascertaining the status of tigers in the country – the report states – can help to produce comprehensive conservation plans; to create and maintain tiger reserves and habitat corridors; to integrate conservation activities with other developmental programmes; and to conserve unique gene pools through re-introduction strategies.
Focus and Factoids by Sowmya Vaidyanathan.
A.K. Nayak, Q. Qureshi, Y.V. Jhala
National Tiger Conservation Authority, Government of India, New Delhi, and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun
29 Jul, 2019