Indore: Today, i.e. InternationalTiger Day is a day of pride for Madhya Pradesh (MP), which has recorded the highest number of tigers in India and become the Tiger State once again. To celebrate the glory of becoming the Tiger State we take a look into how MP was able to achieve the highest numbers of tigers. The day also marked the release of details of the Tiger Census report 2018 by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and MoS Babul Supriyo.

From the Tiger Census: Steep growth after a shortfall in MP

MP had recorded about 300 tigers in 2006 and was the Tiger State but in 2010 it came down to 257 and it lost the title to Karnataka, where 300 tigers were recorded.

Further, in 2014, MP had 308 tigers, but Karnataka reported 406 tigers, and kept the title till the next census. Finally, in 2018, MP regained its title of Tiger State by recording 526 tigers against Karnataka’s 524 tigers.

“MP has also registered a substantial increase in their tiger population and along with Karnataka ranks highest in tiger numbers,” the census report said. On the low end, the poor and continuing decline in tiger status in the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha is a matter of concern.

Tiger Growth over the Years

State- 2006- 2010- 2014- 2018

Madhya Pradesh- 300- 257- 308- 526

Karnataka- 290- 300- 406- 524

TOTAL in India- 1,411- 1,706- 2,226- 2,967

Highest gain recorded in Central India

Further, as shown in the report, the highest gain recorded in the country was in Central India with 18,089 sq km tiger occupied forest in 2018 over 2014. “This analysis suggests that loss and gain of tiger occupancy was mostly from habitat pockets that support low-density populations,” the report said.

It added that such habitats with low-density tigers, though contributing minimally to overall tiger numbers, are crucial links for gene flow and maintaining connectivity between source populations

Tiger view in India

In India, as per the census report a total of 2,461 individual tigers (>1 year of age) were photo-captured. The overall tiger population in India was estimated at 2,967 (SE range 2,603 to 3,346).

Out of this, 83% were actually camera trapped individual tigers and 87% were accounted for by camera trap-based capture-mark-recapture and the remaining 13% estimated through covariate based models. Tigers were observed to be increasing at a rate of 6% per annum in India when consistently sampled areas were compared from 2006 to 2018

For the first time in India, we will be using the Lidar survey technology for effective fodder and water augmentation in forest area, as announced by Javadekar on Tuesday.

Pink Power: the secret weapon among others leading MP to becoming Tiger State

There are combinations of factors that helped MP boost its tiger population by providing a conducive environment. Among other protection measures, a major change that helped MP in boosting Tiger population is ‘Pink Power’.

Until 2014, the number of female staff in forest department was barely countable. But in a slow and committed manner, over the last five years, female staff was increased to 30 to 40 per cent.

“Women staff is essential in cognitive work, especially in forest where we are dealing with wildlife and even when we are dealing with villagers countering human-animal conflict,” a forest public relation officer (wildlife) said.

He said that about 10,000 females were hired in the staff, which helped in better management. “Even in STF (special task force), we have been able to perform much better with female staff, hence controlling wildlife crime,” the officer said.

He explained that 550 offenders of wildlife crime have been arrested by MP STF in the last 5 years. The offenders were from 11 states and some were even offenders of international wildlife crime.

With better claims, community support, social engagements, supporting villagers, better rescue facilities and management, MP has finally taken the top slot in tiger population.

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Free Press Journal