Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology
- India’s tiger census revealed that the country is home to nearly 3,000 of these big cats.
- That was rightly considered a significant achievement given that India’s tiger population had come down to around 1,400 in 2006 and the animal had been completely wiped out of reserves such as Sariska.
Then what is the issue?
- Seventeen of India’s 50 tiger reserves are approaching their peak carrying capacity.
- Nearly a third of the country’s tigers today live outside protected areas (PA). As these carnivores spill out of the national parks, they come into proximity with human settlements.
- This is a major reason for the rise in human-animal conflicts in the past five years.
Understanding the situation
- Male tigers require a range of 70-150 square km and females need about 20-60 sq km.
- The animal is highly territorial and does not like sharing space with even its siblings or cubs.
- When it is about a year-and-a-half old, a tiger begins its search for territory.
- When it cannot find space in a PA, the adolescent either moves out or forces an ageing tiger out of the reserve.
- The itinerant animal is confronted with a shortage of prey and the big cat is forced to shed its natural reticence towards humans and stalks farms and villages for livestock.
- Tigers do not have a natural propensity to attack humans.
- Experts suggest that the problem of plenty can be solved by relocating some tigers from places whose carrying capacity is challenged to ones that have scope to host more animals.
- As the country celebrates its conservation success, policymakers and scientists will have to put their heads together to devise more creative solutions and find homes for the increasing number of tigers.
-Source: Indian Express