How successful is Project Tiger?

Project Tiger
Project Tiger
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India’s Project Tiger is unsuccessful. When Project Tiger was set up in April 1973. Indira Gandhi was interested in wildlife and had spoken about conservation some 4 years earlier in a speech to the IUCN General Assembly in Delhi in 1969. In 1973 there were an estimated 1,827 tigers in India. In 2008 the number was 1,411 3. Over the period 2009-2014 the number was an average of 1,706 1. However a more recent figure is 2,226 2 but we have to be cautious about this data.

For example the estimated global tiger number by the people running the IUCN Red List was 3,200 at 2009. Government figures are invariably higher that independent numbers as the government want their conservation to be successful and be seen to be successful.

But I don’t see real success in these numbers. The numbers are confusing. We have to be very cautious with tiger population numbers. Honestly they are estimates. The counting of tigers is done in a variety of ways including counting scats (faeces), camera traps and pugmarks (footprints). There has to be “extrapolation”. This means counting tigers in a small area and best guessing how that figure can be extended to a larger area.

The IUCN Red List admit that counting tigers is unreliable. They don’t provide figures for India. And they say it is probably impossible to roll back the clock to achieve an increase in tiger numbers.

“This population [breeding population] has declined by over 20% during the last two generations (14 years); the decline continues and may not be reversible in all sites.”

There has been much talk recently about global tiger numbers slightly increasing. I don’t wish to be a pessimist but numbers are bandied around rashly by the media to create a story. I am not convinced there has been an increase as stated. Also how much of this increase (if it is true) can be put down to Project Tiger in India?

If people disagree with my assessment, I’d would ask them to prove success. For the reasons stated I don’t think it is possible. In addition the human population of India continues to climb relentlessly. Against this backdrop how can tiger numbers improve? Tigers need vast territories. The reserves and parks are already too small. Tigers are confined to parks in India.

India human population
India human population growth

Sources: 1 = file:///Users/michaelbroad/Desktop/15955_Panthera_tigris_2015.pdf — 23

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