Tigers are proliferating in India. Their number stood at 2,967 at last count in 2018, a 33 per cent jump from 2,226 in 2014, according to the tiger census released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.

Core habitats

The report ‘Status of Tigers in India – 2018’, compiled by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, highlighted the importance of maintaining core habitats for breeding, expanding conservation interventions to include habitats beyond extant protected areas, maintaining connectivity and providing rigorous protection from poaching.

Central India and Eastern Ghats have the highest number of tigers at 1,033. Madhya Pradesh has 526 tigers, the most in any State, while Maharashtra has 312. Madhya Pradesh has six tiger reserves — Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Satpura and Sanjay-Dubri.

In the western ghats, Karnataka is home to 524 tigers, while Tamil Nadu has 264. The North-East hills and Brahmaputra counted 219 tigers. In Shivalik hills and gangetic plains, Uttarakhand has the highest number of 442 tigers.

Parveen Kaswan, an official in the Ministry of Environment, said, “In West Bengal the census is done in two landscapes, Sunderbans and North Bengal. In North Bengal census could not happen because of agitation in Darjeeling hills. There are tigers, including in Neora Valley National Park.”

The All-India Tiger Estimation 2018 involved surveys in 3,81,400 sq kms of forests, and a total of 5,22,996 kms was walked by staff of the forest department and other partners.

The 2018 survey was unprecedented both in the extent of tiger habitats that were surveyed and in the density of camera traps used with cameras being placed within a two sq km grid.

Overall, the results of the 2018 survey brings both great hope and reassurance about the tiger habitats in many areas.

The survey was led by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Wildlife Institute of India, in collaboration with State Forest Departments. World Wildlife Fund India was the implementation partner.

“While the future of India’s tigers across vast landscapes has always been a challenge in the face of various threats, the latest estimate indicates the relevance of the conservation measures that have been implemented by the Government, Global Tiger Forum (GTF), WWF and other organisations working in the sector,” a WWF spokersperson said.

Rajesh Gopal, Secretary General of GTF, said, “The scale and magnitude of the assessment is unparalleled globally. The outcome demonstrates ongoing concerted efforts from the federal, state governments and collaborators.”