"TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
- William Blake (1757–1827)
On January 20th 2015, the Government of India announced its findings on the recently concluded tiger census (All India Tiger Estimation 2014). As per the report, the number of tigers in India had increased by 30% since 2010 to 2,226 in 2014. India today is proudly the home to 70% of tigers in the world.
Tiger census is done every four years in India – the earlier census,(2010), reported that India had 1636 tigers only .The landmark 2008 report, Status of the Tigers, Co-predators, and Prey in India, published by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, estimated only 1411 adult tigers in existence in India. So with this announcement there was much to cheer - by tiger lovers, by forest officials, by conservators, by environmentalists, by NGOs, and by CSS Corp too.
For us at CSS Corp this was heartening as CSS Corp played a role though small, in this – as part of its CSR efforts. CSS Corp, the only IT Company to have come forward and supported the Forest Department of Karnataka, in its efforts to estimate the number of tigers and it was the first time that the camera traps were deployed here for tigers estimation. CSS Corp donated camera traps to two tiger reserves, (Nagarhole Tiger Reserve and Dandeli –Anshi Tiger Reserve) in the state of Karnataka. Camera trapping is the preferred method for conducting estimates of tiger and is now a mandated method as part of the tiger census protocol.
Image of a tiger using a camera trap
For the uninitiated - India today is home to the largest tiger population in the world. The Government of India had taken a pioneering initiative for conserving its national animal, the tiger, by launching the 'Project Tiger' in 1973. This effort had a humble beginning- from just 9 tiger reserves since its start, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 47 at present, spread out in 18 of our tiger range states, with Karnataka earning the sobriquet as the tiger state. It is now the state with the largest tiger population.
Tiger conservation is no mean achievement
Conserving the big cat in the wild has numerous challenges – from poaching, to habitat fragmentation, forest protection, man-animal conflict, tribal rights, climate change, protection of its prey - these are all challenges that have to be addressed. In India, a sustainable tiger conservation strategy cannot be achieved without the full participation and collective action of individual rural households whose livelihoods depend on rights of access and use of the forests where tigers live. They must be included in conservation efforts. As per the latest census India is winning the battle to save its tigers – with participation and commitment from the government, forest officials, local communities, NGOS, corporates along with framing sustainable policies for forest conservation and tribal rights. All is not lost! And remember technology is increasingly becoming a good resource in conservation, let's use it more!