International Tiger Day:
“Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”— William Blake
These days are long gone and the fearful mammal, once feared and respected, is facing the threats of extinction.
Tiger population came into concern as it was facing a huge slump in the past years. According to a study conducted by WFF, only 7% of the tiger habitats in the world still contains tigers. Experts have been closely studying the issue and came out with some possible reasons for this fast depletion.
Ecologists blame massive habitat loss for this depletion. The fact that the forest covers are being cleared at an alarming rate for civilization, hugely impact the lives of the felines. They are not only deprived of proper shelter but also face a shortage of animals to hunt. This is why tigers turn man-eaters. Else they start feeding on livestock.
Human-animal conflict is also a major reason. As the forest areas shrink, the tiger enters into a direct competition with humans for living space and food. Mostly, the conflict ends when the tigers are brutally killed by the humans.
Poaching and illegal trade also hampers the tiger population. Tigers are killed indiscriminately for their skin, claws, teeth and bones. The tiger skin is a very costly and luxurious item. Its bones, teeth and claws are said to have magic properties. In spite of legal actions against poaching and appointing forest guards, the big cats are not safe even in the sanctuaries. Cruel cases of poaching are common here.
Tourism also adds to the peril. Unregulated tourism affects tiger conservation. Huge vehicles, safari rides, littering and noisy tourists affect the already traumatized tigers. They move further deep into the forest, letting go of their favourite patches of the forest.
A New Hope
Lately there has been a huge bustle about protecting the striped cats and it is true that after much effort and dedication, experts have come up with a happy news.
Tiger population in India, which consists of 70% of tigers in the world, has shown a steady increase up to 30%. This year, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekarreleased a census which says that the tiger population of the country has increased from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014.
The census shows that Karnataka has the highest number with 408 tigers, mostly in the age group of 1.5 and above. The state is followed by Uttarakhand with 340, Madhya Pradesh with 380 and Tamil Nadu with 229. Maharashtra, Assam, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh has 190, 167, 136 and 117 respectively.
Though the world’s tiger population is still falling, the increase in India gives a new hope to the big cats to continue reigning the forests.