Tiger Conservation : Significance and Status – UPSC GS2

Importance of Tiger:
  • Vital in Regulating Ecological Processes: Tigers, the top predators in the ecosystem, are vital in regulating and perpetuating ecological processes.
  • Maintaining Food Chain: It is a top predator which is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates (primarily large mammals) in check.
  • Thus, Tiger helps in maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed.
Conservation Status of Tiger:
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List: Endangered.
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Appendix I.
Threats to Tigers:
  • Habitat loss: Due to tremendous pressure on space and resources for human needs.
  • Genetic inbreeding: Fewer mates to choose from, lower genetic diversity.
  • Man –Tiger conflict: Due to close proximity, villagers often hunt tigers for personal safety and also to protect their livestock.
  • Illegal wildlife trade: Areas around parks are easy targets for poachers and this is leading to one of the fastest growing illegal activity in the world.
  • One of the river links in National River Linking Project would pass through Panna tiger reserve
  • TSR Subramanian Committee recommends easy environmental clearance which might lead to habitat loss.
Tiger Population in India:
  • India is home to over 70% of the tiger population globally.
  • India is home to 53 tiger reserves spread across 18 states and the last tiger census of 2018 showed a rise in the tiger population.
  • India has achieved the remarkable feat of doubling the tiger population in 2018 itself, 4 years ahead of the targeted year 2022 of the St. Petersburg Declaration on tiger conservation.
  • Now, the model of success of India’s tiger governance is now being replicated for other wildlife like the Lion, Dolphin, Leopard, Snow Leopard and other small wild cats, while the country is on the threshold of introducing Cheetah in its historical range.
Related Steps taken:
  • Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards (CA|TS): 14 Tiger Reserves in India have already been awarded with international CA|TS accreditation and efforts are on to bring in more Tiger Reserves under CA|TS accreditation.
  • Project Tiger: It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched in 1973. It provides havens for tigers in the country’s national parks.
  • Budgetary Allocation: The budgetary allocation for tiger conservation has increased from Rs 185 crore in 2014 to Rs 300 crore in 2022.
  • Helping Frontline Staff: The Frontline staff, which is an important pillar of tiger conservation, have extended Rs 2 lakh life cover to each contractual/temporary worker under e-Sharm, a recent initiative of the Ministry of Labour and Employment and Rs 5 lakh health cover under Ayushman Yojana.

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