On the occasion of International Tiger Day results of the fourth cycle of All India Tiger Estimation – 2018 in New Delhi showed the count of tigers in India has risen to 2967 in 2018.
There has also been an increase in the “protected areas.” In 2014, there were 692 protected areas, which increased to more than 860 in 2019. The “Community Reserves” have also grown from 43, in 2014, to more than 100 now.
The 33 per cent rise in tiger numbers is the highest ever recorded between cycles which stood at 21 per cent between 2006 to 2010 and 30 per cent between 2010 and 2014. The rise in tiger numbers was in conformity with the average annual growth rate of tigers since, 2006.
Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of tigers at 526, closely followed by Karnataka at 524 and Uttarakhand with 442 tigers. Chhatisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in their tiger numbers while tiger numbers in Odisha remained constant. All other States witnessed a positive trend. Viewed at the landscape level, all 5 landscapes showed an increase with the Central Indian landscape recording the highest increment.
India has been estimating its tigers using a double sampling approach involving a mark-recapture framework to ascertain tiger numbers, which is being improved over time keeping in view advancements made in science.
During the 4th cycle data was collected using an Android based application- M-STrIPES ( Monitoring system for Tigers’ Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) and analyzed on the applications’ desktop module.
The application greatly eased out analysis of a large quantum of data that was collected over nearly 15 months involving survey of 381,400 sq.km. of forested habitats, 522,996 km of walk by State Forest officials, laying of 317,958 habitat plots, totaling a human investment of 5, 93,882 man days. Besides cameras were placed in 26760 locations which gave a total of 35 million images of wildlife including 76523 images of tigers. Segregation of these images was possible in a short time because of use of artificial intelligence software.
The intensity with which the exercise was conducted resulted in 83 per cent of the tiger population being captured wherein 2461 individual tiger photographs were obtained and only 17 per cent of the tiger population was estimated using robust spatially explicit capture recapture statistical models.
A report of the 4th cycle of the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves (MEETR) was also released with Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh scoring the highest and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu showing the highest increment in management since the last cycle for which the latter was awarded. 42 per cent of the tiger reserves fell in the Very Good management category, 34 per cent in the Good category, 24 per cent in the Fair category while no tiger reserve was rated Poor.
Projecting tiger reserve as engines of growth was highlighted in the report released on Economic Valuation of Tiger Reserves.