After a continuous decline in numbers, tigers are finally getting some good news. Indian authorities have announced that the number of tigers has increased by 50% in 7 years, from 1,400 to 2,226.
“India is now home to 70 per cent of the world’s tigers,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday. Mr Javadekar described the results of the census as a “huge success story”.
It’s been a rough period for tigers, who have all but gone extinct. Out of all the tiger species, humanity already wiped out 3, and the species seemed pretty doomed, unless quick and firm action was taken. It’s not clear how many tigers there were in India, with estimates varying from 1400 to 1700. There were signs of improvement since 2011, when authorities reported a small yet significant growth in the number of tigers. The global tiger population is estimated somewhere around 3,500, down from over 100,000 a century ago. Still, this is good news; the only good news in quite a while for tigers.
“Never before has such an exercise been taken on such a massive scale where we have unique photographs of 80% of India’s tigers,” Javadekar told journalists in Delhi. “While the tiger population is falling in the world, it is rising in India. This is great news,” he added.
The main driver for the decline in tiger population is poaching; tigers are hunted and killed for their body parts which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Needless to say, this is pseudoscience.
The other main cause for the decline in tiger numbers is the destruction of habitat. In India, only 11% of the original Indian tiger habitat remains, and it has become fragmented and degraded.
In 2004, not a single tiger could be spotted at the Sariska wildlife reserve in Rajasthan, a top destination for big cat watchers. We are currently living the biggest tiger crisis in the history of mankind, and while the disappearance of tigers may have seemed like a good thing back in the caveman days, it’s clearly not a good thing now.