Editorial of the Day: How India became a Leader in Tiger Conservation (Indian Express)

India, along with Nepal, has achieved the TX2 goal of doubling the Tiger population, envisioned under the Global Tiger Initiative of the World Bank.

  • Global Tiger Initiative of the World Bank was part of the first tiger range countries summit held at St Petersburg in 2010. The summit also codified a Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP).
  • The second Tiger Range Countries Summit held at Vladivostok in September 2022 provided a mixed picture. South Asia and Russia have an optimal wild tiger population.
  • The Global Tiger Forum (GTF), which is an implementing arm of the Global Tiger Initiative Council, monitors and reviews the GTRP, including frequent mission visits and stocktaking events.
  • In countries where tiger governance failed, tiger have become functionally extinct (Cambodia, Vietnam, and Lao PDR).
  • Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia hold promise but the basic field delivery system needs to improve, with a focus on protection infrastructure.
  • India, being the leader in tiger conservation programme, has provided other countries the first-hand experience of existing good practices in field formations.

How did India become a Champion in Tiger Conservation?

  • Project Tiger (1973): India has a dedicated chapter in its national legislation on the wild tiger, with tiger governance standing out as a role model of collective responsibility between the Centre and states.
  • Role of NTCA: NTCA gave much-needed statutory backing and impetus to Project Tiger. Conservation areas have grown from initial 9 to 53, which is almost 2.3 per cent of the country’s geographical area.
    • NTCA carries out special audits, namely, fire audit, security audit, in tiger conservation areas. Reproductive surplus is transferred to promising areas with habitat viability and good protection status.
  • Agenda for Actions: The “exclusive” tiger agenda focuses on viable tiger populations in core areas (national parks/sanctuaries) within the natural habitat carrying capacity.
    • The peripheral areas (buffer) focus on “inclusive” actions to handle the co-occurrence of people and wild animals beyond the core.
  • Cross-border conservation: India has signed bilateral instruments/Memorandums of Understanding with several tiger range countries (Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar) for cross-border protection.

Way Forward

  • The increase in tiger numbers has resulted in newer challenges. The human-tiger interface has become more sensitive than ever before.
  • Tiger landscapes need to include larger “zone of influence” that focuses on integration on several fronts, namely, spatial, sectoral, intra-sectoral, vertical; and resource pooling.
  • A new landscape-scale master plan, monitored by the existing administrative apparatus with due legal backing and funding support from ongoing schemes, is the need of the hour.

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