International Tiger Day 2021: Know its history, significance and key facts
29th July is referred to as the Global Tiger Day also every year. The day is observed to mark the declining population of tigers across the globe. The decline happened in the 20th century and the number is luckily on rise again due to the continued efforts of the people. India prepares the tiger estimation report every four years and last report was released in 2018.
In 1973, Project Tiger was started in India which was a unique plan to save tigers on the planet. Since it formative years there were 9 tiger reserves but the Tiger Project coverage has increased to 50.
But according to WWF around 3,900 wild tigers are left in the world. Since the beginning of the 20th century, over 95% of the world's tiger population is lost. It is said that across Asia, the snaring crisis poses a grave threat to wild tigers.
We can't deny the fact that tigers are the largest species of the cat family and also one of the most iconic animals on the planet. About a century ago, there may have been over 100,000 tigers that roam on the planet.
A conservational goal which is so ambitious was set up by the government of the 13 range countries to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 in the next Chinese year of the tiger.
There is a famous quote "Where tigers thrive, it is a sign that the ecosystem is healthy".
International Tiger Day: History
International Tiger Day was established in 2010 at Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia to raise awareness about the decline of wild tiger numbers, leaving them in the brink of extinction and to encourage the work of Tiger conservation. In the Summit, a declaration was made that Governments of tiger populated countries had vowed to double the tiger population by 2020.
Several events every year are organised by animal organisations like WWF, IFAW, and the Smithsonian Institute.
Reasons behind the declining population of Tigers
- Poaching and illegal trade: For traditional Chinese medicines, tigers face the problem of poaching as there is a demand for every part of the body of the tiger. In illegal wildlife trades, they keep high prices.
- Habitat loss: Nowadays and with the increasing population forest are becoming less in numbers. Clearing of forests for several reasons like agriculture, industries, etc. made a loss of around 93% of the natural habitats of tigers.
- Climate Change: With the rise of sea level due to climate change lead to wiping out of Sundarbans one of the habitats of Royal Bengal Tigers.
- Several diseases are also the key factor. Several animals die and there is no way to ascertain the cause of their death. Certain diseases spread epidemic like Feline Panleucopania, tuberculosis, etc.
- The study of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR) says that the tiger population in the park shown a loss of genetic diversity over the years.
- Degradation of Habitats: Big cats want secure and disturbance-free habitat to survive but due to several developmental activities in the landscape of the protected areas (PAs) pose a big threat to tigers.
- Man-animal conflict also affects the population of big cats.
- Lack of protection infrastructure.
- Increasing tourism day by day is also one of the factors for the decline in tiger numbers.
All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018:
According to the report released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi namely 'All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018' India has achieved its 2022 target of tiger population in the country. India now has 2,967 tigers. The growth in the 4th cycle of the Tiger Census has been 33 percent. 4 years before the deadline, India has achieved a target. Nine years ago in St. Petersburg, it was decided to double the population of the tiger by 2022.
Let us tell you that according to the census, Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of tigers that is 526 which is closely followed by Karnataka at 524 and Uttarakhand with 442 tigers at number 3 position.
There is a decline in the population of tiger in Chhattisgarh and Mizoram while tiger numbers in Odisha remained constant.
Note: In 2014, there were 692 protected areas, which increased to more than 860 in 2019. The 33% rise in tiger numbers is the highest ever recorded between cycles which stood at 21% between 2006 to 2010 and 30% between 2010 and 2014.
Tigers are a part of our planets’ natural heritage; they also have great cultural and historical significance. No doubt they are also crucial for the ecosystems in which they live. We can’t ignore that tigers not only protect the forest by maintaining ecological integrity but also they bring the highest levels of protection and investment to an area. Therefore, we call them as “umbrella species" that is their conservation also conserve many other species in the same area.
So, protect and conserve tigers!