All-India Tiger Estimation 2018 : Civil Services Mentor Magazine: MARCH - 2018

::All-India Tiger Estimation 2018::

Tiger act as a symbol of the richness of the ecosystem, thus conservation of tigers is necessary to protect the wilderness of the entire ecosystem. Wilderness play an important role in providing the life support system in any ecosystem. For the survival of the mankind it is necessary to preserve the wilderness. Tigers constitute the topmost level in the heirarcy of the food chain and they play a very important role in the ecosystem. Food chain are generally inverted so harm to the topmost carnivores will adversely impact a large number of species in the lower level. All the species in a food chain are interlinked cornivores help in maintain the population which help in retaining the population of grass and trees and later are the primary source of food for entire food chain. Thus every specy including tiger has importance in the ecosystem and importance of the specy increases if it is in the higher trophic level.

There are various reasons which provides a threat of Tiger protection. Important among them are:

  • Despite several measures taken by government poaching still continue.
  • Due to continous reduction in forest land, habitat for Tiger has been reducing continously.
  • Pray for the Tiger are also decreasing.
  • Some of the Tigers live outside the protected area, there conservation is extremely difficult.

For the protection of Tigers, the Government of India has taken a pioneering initiative for conserving its national animal, the tiger, by launching the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973. AT the begining Project Tiger covered only 8 Tiger reserves and it has now expanded to 47. The tiger coservation is based upon a core and buffer area strategy. The core areas are given more protection from human interference. They are also provided with the legal backing as national park or a sanctuary. The buffer or peripheral areas have mixture of land which is forest as well as non forest. Important points in Project Tiger are:

  • The Project Tiger aims to foster an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas of tiger reserves, with an inclusive people oriented agenda in the buffer.
  • Project Tiger is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has an overarching supervisory / coordination role for Tiger conservation, performing functions as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

The All-India Tiger Estimation, 2018 exercise promises not just to be hi-tech, but will also be far more accurate and precise than ever before. The phone application automatically records the track log of surveys and line transects, as well as authenticates the recorded data on signs and animal sightings with geo-tagged photographs. With increased camera trap density and the use of android technology, estimates arrived at are likely to be more robust – both in terms of accuracy and precision. This becomes evident from the fact that compared to the exercise conducted in the year 2006, when 9, 700 cameras were put up, the 2018 Estimation will use nearly 15, 000 cameras. It was also pointed out that it is not possible to count the photograph of every tiger in the camera trap.

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The Tiger Estimation exercise is the world’s largest wildlife survey effort in terms of coverage, intensity of sampling and quantum of camera trapping. An amount of Rs. 10.22 crore will be invested by the Government in the fourth cycle of All India Tiger Estimation. Financial assistance to the tune of Rs. 7 crore will be provided to the States through the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger.

India conducts the All India Tiger Estimation every four years. Three cycles of the estimation have already been completed in 2006, 2010 and 2014. These estimates showed estimates of 1, 411, 1, 706 and 2, 226 tigers respectively. The methodology has remained the same in the three cycles in terms of concept, but latest scientific developments in the field of animal abundance estimation have been incorporated and the best available science to evaluate tiger status has been used.

In 2014, over 70% of the estimated tiger population was through camera trapping, where 1686 photographs of individual tigers had been obtained. The remaining 30% of tigers were from areas that had tigers, but had not been camera trapped and were estimated by using robust statistical models, where ecological covariates of prey, habitat and human impact were used.

The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 was amended in the year 2006. Since then, the Government has taken several initiatives in the field of tiger conservation. Tiger conservation was given statutory backing. The newly-created NTCA was mandated to carry out estimation of population of tiger and its natural prey species and assess status of their habitat.

The Tiger Task Force realized that a major lacuna in tiger conservation was the absence of a credible, scientific national monitoring protocol that will inform policy-makers and wildlife managers on –

  • Spatial extent and the size of tiger population in India;
  • Welfare factors in these and neighbouring habitat (prey status, human pressure, other wildlife species, status and habitat conditions)
  • Trends in the population and area occupied over time.

The national status assessment exercise provides details such as the size of tiger population, extent, covariates of prey, co-predators, habitat and human impact. It has been observed that tiger population in India has increased at an average rate of about 5.8 per cent since the year 2006.

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