Only 13 per cent of the tiger conservation areas met the global standards of an accreditation system, the Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS), a new survey of current management methodologies at 112 sites located in 11 tiger-range countries, including India, said. The survey is the first and largest rapid assessment of site-based tiger conservation across Asia and has been driven by 11 conservation organisations and tiger-range governments that are part of the CA|TS coalition.
Under the accreditation system of CA|TS, tiger conservation areas provide evidence under seven pillars and 17 elements of critical management activity to demonstrate that they meet a range of criteria for effective conservation management. “To date, three sites - Lansdowne Forest Division in Uttarakhand, India, Chitwan National Park in Nepal and Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve in Russia - have been awarded CA|TS Approved status,” a statement said.
The CA|TS was developed in response to the need for stringent conservation procedures for protection of the big cat through a partnership between governments and conservation organisations to assess the levels of effective management, among others. Of the 112 global sites surveyed, only 12.5 per cent was currently able to meet the full CA|TS criteria.
“Half of the assessed sites (52.5 per cent) report fairly strong management, although there are improvements needed. The remaining 35 per cent (the majority of which are in Southeast Asia) have relatively weak management. Basic needs such as enforcement of laws against poaching, engaging local communities and managing conflicts between people and wildlife, remain weak for all areas surveyed,” it said.
Global Tiger Forum Assistant Secretary General S P Yadav said an ineffective management of tiger conservation areas led to the extinction of tigers from certain areas. “To halt and reverse the decline of wild tigers, effective management is thus the single-most important action. To achieve this, long-term investment in tiger conservation areas is absolutely essential and this is a responsibility that must be led by the tiger-range governments, a statement quoted Yadav as saying.
Positive findings highlight the fact that tiger monitoring is being implemented in 87 per cent of the sites and all sites surveyed in South Asian and East Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Russia have management plans.
However, several sites in Southeast Asia, including countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, did not have management plans and about 85 per cent of the sites also had no systems for assessing management effectiveness, it said.
“Despite poaching being one of the greatest threats faced by big cats, 85 per cent of the areas surveyed do not have staff capacity to patrol the sites effectively and 61 per cent of the areas in Southeast Asia have a very limited anti-poaching enforcement,” it said. The survey said low investment from governments in Southeast Asia was one of the reasons for the lack of management of these supposedly “protected areas”.
Michael Blazer, chair of the executive committee of CA|TS, said unless governments committed to sustained investments in the protection of these sites, the tiger population might face catastrophic decline that they had suffered over the last few decades. “The accreditation of Lansdowne Forest Division, Uttarakhand, in May 2017, the third CA|TS accredited site globally and the first in India, is significant since it is a crucial link between the Rajaji and Corbett tiger reserves,” said Ravi Singh, secretary general and CEO of WWF-India.