About a century ago, it was easy to see the tiger in its natural habitat as around 100,000 of them roamed across Asia, including several sub-species that are now extinct. Now, it is often experienced by disappointed travellers who visit tiger habitats and fail to spot the cat. This is because their numbers have declined drastically in the last 100 years with only about 3900 tigers remaining.
India is home to more than 70% of the world’s tiger population. This makes it an important site for conservation of the country’s national animal. In order to work towards the same, Project Tiger was launched in the country in 1973 with just nine tiger reserves. Today, India has 50 tiger reserves spread over 72,000 sq km. Its conservation efforts paid off and the goal of doubling the tiger population by 2022 from 1411in 2006, was achieved in 2019 itself, 4 years before the allocated time. Currently, India is home to over 2967 tigers.
International Tiger Day 2021
International Tiger Day or World Tiger Day is observed on July 29 every year to spread awareness about dangers and problems faced by tigers across the globe. While the pandemic has been raging across India’s cities and villages, an ecological crisis that has been persisting side-by-side has been threatening the country’s wildlife habitats and forests. The focus of authorities has been diverted from conservation of biodiversity to management of the pandemic. Amid this, the International Tiger Day is very significant as it highlights the importance of conservation of Tigers and their natural habitat. To place emphasis on this, the theme of International Tiger Day 2021 is: “Their Survival is in our hands”.
Dangers to Tiger Population
According to a report by Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of Tiger Reserves 2018, half of India’s 50 tiger reserves are threatened by linear infrastructures like roads, motorways, and railway lines. The habitat loss of wildlife is much more grave than it is for humans, for humans can survive in alternate conditions, but for animals in the wild, that is not an option. Tigers have lost 93% of their historical range as their habitat has been destroyed or degraded by human activity.
Additionally, poaching is a major threat to Tiger population. Every single part of the tiger is traded in illegal markets. It is used in traditional Asian medicine which has no medicinal value at all, making the deaths of these animals for this purpose unnecessary.
Human Wildlife Conflict is another threat to the Tiger population in India. As habitats of tigers get smaller, the territory in which they are free to hunt also reduces. This often leads them to entering human settlements and kill livestock. When this happens, the farmers often retaliate and kill the big cat.
CSR Projects for Tiger Conservation in India
Aircel – ‘Save Our Tigers’ project
Aircel Ltd took up the ‘Save Our Tigers’ initiative in 2008 with an aim to raise mass awareness about the status of tigers and their conservation. The project helped introduce the concept of kid’s safari with Sanctuary Asia ‘The Kids for Tigers Express’, which is a fully equipped education and entertainment van that passes around the villages in Ranthambore National Park and promotes awareness among the communities about the need to protect the tigers.
In another initiative, Aircel partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Trust to deploy and implement high impact on-ground projects. This initiative was highly successful as it developed and deployed 41 rapid response units in 35 tiger reserves, refurbished 1167 anti-poaching camps across majority of the tiger reserves and trained a large number of frontline forest guards in various aspects of conservation.
Tata Housing’s Endangered Species Conservation Project
Tata Housing has been investing in conservation of endangered species in India as part of its CSR initiatives. It is engaged in tiger conservation across six landscapes of India, viz. Terai Arc, Sundarbans, Satpuda–Maikal, North Bank, Kaziranga Karbi Anglong and the Western Ghats. The company has helped by training the forest staff and providing them with protective gear to curb poaching of tigers in these landscapes. In addition, the frontline personnel of tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries are provided with patrolling equipment such as GPS, compass, binoculars, digital camera, LED torch, winter jackets, trekking shoes, backpacks, mosquito nets, raincoats, patrolling vehicles, etc.