According to a recently published census (July 2019), India has increased its population of wild tigers to 2,967: a 30% increase from the country’s last census recordings four years ago. The figures are drawn from 26,000 cameras and almost 350,000 images, analysed by computer programmes to identify individual creatures. More than 50 tiger reserves in the country have helped to protect their habitats.
A record-breaking low in the global tiger population in 2010 prompted India and 12 other countries to sign the St Petersburg Declaration, stipulating they would double their tiger populations by 2022 under the Global Tiger Recovery Programme. By these latest figures, India has achieved its aim, more than doubling its population from a national low of 1,411 in 2006.
This is a major conservation success following almost a century of decline in the number of tigers found in the wild. At the turn of the 20th century, the tiger population was approximately 100,000 compared to the current recording of just 3,900, however numbers are gradually increasing again. This promising news will hopefully bring attention back to biodiversity loss, which is frequently dwarfed as an environmental crisis by climate change in the media, as well as the potential for ecosystem regeneration.
These conservation efforts have resulted in India now being home to three-quarters of the global tiger population. Whilst these statistics are positive for India, they also highlight that conservation efforts haven’t reached the same levels of success in the other countries that signed the declaration. A proportion of the declaration was dedicated to combating poaching and the illegal trade in tiger body parts as this continues to be the main threat facing the sustainability of tigers worldwide. Seeing as the illegal trade is transnational in nature, it is of vital importance that cooperation between countries in this regard continues along regional and global lines.