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If Modi is serious about saving India's tigers, he must read this

 

DAILY O
Ahead of the Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation, suggestions for PM.
11 April 2016
Prerna Bindra


On April 12, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the third edition of the Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, which will have 13 participating tiger range countries. All these tiger range countries will share their good practices and success stories, thereby contributing towards the cause of conservation.

One expects that India will take the lead - not because it is a host country, but because we have the maximum number of wild tigers in the world at 2,226, a jump from 30 per cent since from a shocking 1,411 in 2006 to an encouraging 1,706 (all mean figures from the estimated range) in 2010.

It is a matter of tremendous pride, that a country like India-with its booming population, high population density, grinding poverty, a consumptive middle class and imperative to develop, harbours the maximum - about 60 per cent of the world's wild tigers.

But along the way, we got so enamoured by the "2,226" aura, we believe that "all is well with the tiger".

The factors which  helped  tigers bounce back and given India a position of leadership in its conservation: political will and a commitment to protect its last remaining habitat seem to be at an all time low. Shockingly, the tiger is being pitched as a "hurdle" in the country's development. As per reports, even the country's Supreme Court observed on January 20 that "conservation of tigers was important but could not be at the cost of general economic development of the country," in context of expansion of a highway through a vital tiger corridor.

The prime minister has asked "wildlife lovers" for their thoughts, ideas, inputs. Sir, here are mine:

1.    Tigers are not secure in India (to be fair, across its range). We have has lost the highest number of tigers to poachers and illegal killing in 2016 in the last 15 years. According to data compiled by the Wildlife Protection Society of India, the last peak was in the first quarter of 2001, when 30 tigers were poached (including seizure of body parts, skins). Between 2002 and 2015, the number of tigers poached in the first three months of a year varied from three to 16. But the news is grim again in 2016 - 25 tigers have been killed, including seizures of skins and other derivatives, till March 31. 
 

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