Bengal tiger numbers are up in India! The authorities in India have recently reported a 30% rise in the number if tigers in their country over recent years. This brings hope for their survival where in the past there were severe doubts. India declares that there are 2,226 tigers in the wild, up from 1,706 (2010). The environment minister considers it a huge success.
How did they count the tigers? They used a large number of camera traps (9,700) at 47 different tiger reserves. Camera traps are the best way to count and superior to checking for scats (droppings). However, counting tigers is tricky so there should be a word of warning about these numbers, I feel. I don’t believe we can say for sure that the figures are correct. How accurate are they? What is the margin of error when counting tigers with modern techniques? I don’t know. Perhaps the 2010 figure was underrecorded in which case their has been no true rise in numbers. I am playing devil’s advocate.
Why are the numbers up? The camera traps have deterred poachers. They fear being filmed and caught. “Poaching is still a problem but less so than in 2003-04” (Belinda Wright, British conservationist and director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India). Also there has been intensified efforts to stamp out poaching. In addition there has been reintroductions of tigers into some areas and finally habitat has been more effectively protected. Panna National Park had lost all its tigers by 2008 but a re-introduction programme now means there are 24 in the reserve.
What are the main threats today? China is still the main problem. The only way to save wild tigers is (a) ban all trade of tiger body parts into and throughout China and (b) for China to stop tiger farming for their body parts because this encourages consuming tiger body parts and the Chinese prefer wild tiger body parts. Farmed tiger encourages the poaching of wild tiger. There is little expectation that either goal will be achieved.
Problem tiger reserves? There are four reserves in India where there are no tigers due to poaching. I don’t know which ones they are, sorry.
Associated: best Bengal tiger reserves.
Source: Times newspaper of today.