Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Saturday, December 3, 2022

International Tiger Day

 International Tiger Day is on July 29 every year, to give worldwide attention to the conservation of tigers. It is both an awareness day as well as a celebration. It was founded at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010. This was done because at that moment wild tigers were too close to extinction. The goal of tiger day is to promote protection and expansion of wild tiger habitats and to gain support through awareness for tiger conservation.

 

The tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea. Tiger has featured prominently in ancient Indian mythology and folklore. The tiger is the vehicle of Shakti, the all powerful goddess. The animal is also revered as a deity by the tribals of the Sunderbans and Maharashtra, where he is called Waghdeo or Waghoba.

 

From one lakh tigers in 1913 to a mere 3,000 now, global wild tiger population has been decimated over the last century. India, which had the maximum number of tigers, now has only 2,226 in the wild, and despite strong global support for conservation, survival of the species continues to be threatened mostly due to hunting, poaching and fragmented habitat.

 

In the first half of the 20th century hunting for trophies and as a form of pest control devastated tiger numbers. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that tiger hunting was made illegal in India. The most significant immediate threat to the existence of wild tiger populations is the illegal trade in poached skins and body parts between India, Nepal and China. Poachers emptied the tiger reserves of Sariska (Rajasthan) and Panna (Madhya Pradesh) the big cat by 2005 and by 2008, respectively. The demand for tiger parts as trophies, status symbols and as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine is driving the tiger to the brink of extinction. Low rate of detection, lower rate of conviction, and the lack of network to prevent poaching are killing the tigers.  Linear infrastructural projects like roads, highways, canals cutting through the forest corridors also leave tigers vulnerable to poaching and unwanted contact with human beings.

 

In India, where about 60 per cent of the world’s wild tigers still roam, the human population has grown by 50 percent in the past 20 years. The staggering growth in the human population means less space for the tiger and the depletion of its prey forcing, it into conflict with humans. Tiger habitat is being overtaken by agricultural land, timber cutting, access routes, human settlement and hydroelectric dams – all of which have contributed to a 93% loss of the historic tiger range over the last 100 years. All of this is creating small pockets of land in which tigers now live which are surrounded by rapidly increasing human populations. Isolated tiger populations can cause inbreeding which leads to a reduction in genetic diversity. To help remedy this, wildlife corridors are being built, linking the isolated areas and allowing the movement of wildlife. As tigers wander, trying to find new habitats, they often come into contact with humans which can lead to conflict. As tigers compete with humans and industry for land, they find less and less to eat. Local people hunt the same prey as tigers do, pressing tigers to resort to domestic animals and, on rare occasions, even humans. Threatened villagers often poison, shoot, or snare the encroaching tigers.

 

The tiger is not just a charismatic species but is a unique animal which plays a pivotal role in the health and diversity of an ecosystem. It is a top predator and is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. Therefore the presence of tigers in the forest is an indicator of the well being of the ecosystem. The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.(WWF)

 

Educating masses and creating awareness about importance of tiger and the need for conservation of these species can help in striking a balance between humans and tigers.

 

CPR Environmental Education Centre has been a pioneer in environmental education efforts in India and has conducted a variety of programmes to spread awareness and interest among the masses.

 

For creating and spreading awareness about Tigers and their importance, CPREEC in past has organized exhibitions, painting contests, and quiz programmes. The exhibition titled Tiger!! Tiger!! was organized and a booklet  with the same name was released.

 

 

The book contains all the information about tigers, their species both extinct and extant, threats to the tigers, laws for protecting the tigers and the need to save these species.

 

CPREEC also dedicated one issue of its quarterly magazine Eco-News to India’s wildlife and endangered species to remind the readers what is left and what will not be in the future.

 

CPREEC would continue to strive, to create awareness about India’s wildlife and hopes that on International Tiger Day centre’s awareness activity among school children will be fruitful. 

 

 

Source:

  • WWF
  • Project Tiger