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POACHING, NOT VIRUS, IS THE BIGGER THREAT, SAYS TIGER EXPERT

Why in news?

Wildlife scientist cautions that a spurt in poaching during the lockdown period poses a greater threat to wildlife than the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Background

  • A tiger at the Bronx zoo in the U.S. tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
  • The warning came after the advisory issued by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for immediate preventive measures to stop the spread of the virus from humans to animals and vice-versa in national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves.

Views of Wildlife scientist

  • The issue was being blown out of proportion because of the media focus, although this could be attributed to genuine concern.
  • This specific virus was known to affect domestic cats and it came as no surprise that tigers could get it too.
  • Wild tiger populations had high birth rates and high annual mortality rates and the coronavirus-related threats were highly unlikely to cause population declines.
  • The real threat to tigers was posed by a surge in local poaching of prey species during the lockdown.

Poaching during lockdown

  • With the police busy otherwise, and forest officials facing movement constraints, this emboldens a new wave of poachers.
  • In response to the reported spurt in poaching due to lockdown: there was no known case of poaching in protected areas where fire guards supplemented the field staff and the added staff would deter poachers.

Project Tiger

  • Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in April 1973 by the Government of India.
  • The project aims at ensuring a viable population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitats, protecting them from extinction, and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage forever represented as close as possible the diversity of ecosystems across the distribution of tigers in the country.
  • The project’s task force visualized these tiger reserves as breeding nuclei, from which surplus animals would migrate to adjacent forests. Funds and commitment were mastered to support the intensive program of habitat protection and rehabilitation under the project.
  • The government has set up a Tiger Protection Force to combat poachers and funded relocation of villagers to minimize human-tiger conflicts.

Project Tiger’s main aims are to:

  • Reduce factors that lead to the depletion of tiger habitats and to mitigate them by suitable management. The damages done to the habitat shall be rectified so to facilitate the recovery of the ecosystem to the maximum possible extent.
  • Ensure a viable tiger population for economic, scientific, cultural, aesthetic and ecological values.
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Project Tiger Reserves of India

The Project Tiger Reserves of India is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

Project Tiger Reserves Located State
Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Kawal Andhra Pradesh
Namdapha Pakhui/Pakke Arunachal Pradesh
Kaziranga Manas Nameri Assam
Valmiki Nagar Bihar
Achanakmar Indravati Udanti and Sitanadi Chhattisgarh
Palamau Jharkhand
Bandipur Bhadra Dandeli-Anshi Nagarhole B.R Hills Karnataka
Parambikulam Periyar Kerala
Bandhavgarh Kanha Panna Pench Sanjay Dubri Satpura Madhya Pradesh
Melghat Pench ShahyadriTabola-Andhari Maharashtra
Dampa Mizoram
Satkosia Simplipal Orissa
Mukunda Hills Sariska Ranthambore Rajasthan
Annamalai Kalakad-Mundathurai Mudumalai Sathyamangalam Tamil Nadu
Katerniaghat Extension Dudhwa Uttar Pradesh
Corbett Uttarakhand
Buxa Sunderban West Bengal

Tiger Census in India

  • Every 4 years the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) conducts a tiger census across India.
  • The first was conducted in 2006, followed by 2010 and in 2014.
  • The Census (2014) had reported 2,226 tigers in the country, up from 1,706 in 2010.
  • The fourth tiger census (All India Tiger Estimation 2018-19) estimated to be released in May 2019.
  • This 2018 tiger census uses a mobile app named “MSTrIPES” for the very first time to store information of the counting.
  • One of the Primary focus of the tiger census 2018 is to cover the northeast India that was not included in the previous census.
  • For the very first time three neighbouring countries Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh are helping in counting the number of tigers all across India, especially in the region with mutual borders.
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September 2022
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