Tiger conservation attempts to prevent tigers from becoming extinct and preserving their natural habitat. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is playing a crucial role in improving habitat and ensuring a safe life for tigers by tightening the laws on illegal poaching of tigers all around the world. I am writing this article in the hope that some of us, if not all people will help to restore the population of Tigers.
Reasons for the depletion of tiger population
Deforestation, which leads to a lack of habitat for the tigers and illegal hunting are the two most important reasons why the number of tigers is depleting. The world has lost 95% of its tiger population since the early 1900s. The decline is due to the illegal trade of tiger parts, hunting and habitat loss. 61% of the decrease is due to illegal poaching in wildlife constructions and forests. The Covid-19 pandemic is also affecting the numbers, as only 75% of forest rangers are able to report for duty to protect the animals. Due to the lack of security and the poachers having more advanced technology, there is very little that the forest rangers reporting for duty can do.
Why are tigers important for our forests
As carnivorous animals such as tigers are on top of the food chain, they prey on herbivores lower down, such as deer and Antelope thereby keeping their population in control. With excess herbivores and no carnivores to hunt them, overgrazing could lead to a disbalance in the forest ecosystem. Also, fear of carnivorous predators also scares away anyone trying to cut down trees thus, the extinction of tigers will surely mean the end of some forests.
Project Tiger was launched by the Government of India in 1973. It is a major effort to conserve the tiger and its habitat in India. In the early 1900s, one estimate of the tiger population in India placed the figure at 40,000, and then an Indian tiger census conducted in 1972, revealed the existence of only 1827 tigers. A recent census conducted in 2018 showed the existence of 2967 tigers in India, which is an improvement and proof that the initiative is working.
Project Tiger was started by Indira Gandhi in 1973. It was originally started in the Jim Corbett National Park and then was accepted by 50+ zoos and wildlife sanctuaries by the end of the year. It was started when tigers were on the verge of getting extinct. It was in 2010 that the result of the Project Tiger’s initiative was noticed, as the number of tigers had tripled not only in India but also in the rest of the world. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam are the countries along with India, where the Project Tiger initiative is actively followed and taken seriously.
What can we do to undo the damage
We can help in increasing the number of tigers by protecting tigers and their natural habitat. The government can make the punishments of illegal poaching of tigers stricter. Did you know, children and adults living in the cities can also help wildlife sanctuaries and zoos? We can adopt an animal by sponsoring for their well being and upkeep. Bannerghatta Biological Park and Tata Steel Zoological Society and many similar Indian zoos invite people to adopt wild animals. Isn’t it a wonderful way for us to do our bit for nature? As children, we can also organise social awareness rallies, start or join nature clubs so that the tigers don’t lose their habitat. It may not sound like much but if taken seriously the number of tigers can certainly rise back again.
While you must be thinking what difference will it make if we children take the initiative to save tigers. I feel when people will realise what we are doing is right, they will join us too. As the saying goes, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, I encourage you all to take that first step, to inspire generations to come. So join me to save our tigers.
Contributor: Dhairya Mittal
About our Writing Program Student
Dhairya Mittal is a 7th Grader studying at Hiranandani Foundation School, Powai in Mumbai. He’s an avid reader and loves to play cricket and practise his Taekwondo skills in his free time. A Taekwondo black belt, Dhairya is also an excellent orator and a groomed debater too.