For wildlife lovers with a particular passion for big cats, a dedicated Tiger safari to the nature reserves in the subcontinent of India can prove to be one of the most memorable encounters of their lives. |
As a result of the combined efforts by international conservation agencies, the government and local communities over the past 12 years, the population of the big cats in India has grown to 2,226. For anyone planning to go on a Tiger safari this is good news, with the opportunity for multiple sightings during both day and night drives out into the jungle habitat.
India Leads the World
With latest official figures showing that India is home to around 70% of the entire population of the world's Tigers, the country's sustained conservation efforts and changing cultural perceptions are being praised as a successful model for other parts of the world to follow.
A Conference on Conservation
Speaking at the third Asian ministerial conference on tiger conservation, India's Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar, said the official figures were a heartening reflection on his government's commitment to a 'zero tolerance' approach to poaching and incentivised projects to create wildlife corridors for the big cat.
Big Picture Conservation
Mr Javadekar went on to say that establishing these corridors benefitted the entire ecosystem and not just one species. He said his government was committed to increasing the scope of the protection with the historic step of providing compensation to big business, farmers and local communities in order to secure forest land as a safe habitat for the Tiger.
The latest official population count of the big cat in India is up 30% (from 2010 figures), which Mr Javadekar said shows the conservation programmes are proving a great success, and hailed it as "a very proud moment" for India. In addition, he said programmes aimed at returning orphaned cubs to the wild and an increase in the funding for Project Tiger had contributed to the growth in the big cat's population.
The latest data released by the WWF shows that of just 13 countries that are home to wild Tigers, six of them have seen an increase in their population over the past five years. This represents a 22% overall global growth, to approximately 3,890.
After many decades of decline in the big cat's populations, the WWF says the figures give them great hope and it shows what can be achieved when communities, government and conservationists work in tandem.
As well as at a community and governmental level, recognition of the big cat's tenuous conservation status (which remains 'endangered') is being addressed on a global level by the implementation of responsible eco-tourism, in the form of Tiger safari tours. Enabling tourists the opportunity to venture into the wildlife-rich habitat of India's nature reserves to observe the big cat is something previously only available to researchers and scientists. This kind of eco-tourism is an excellent way of raising the big cat's profile and the need to pay attention to the conservation of all the world's endangered wildlife.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Tigers. Being passionate about her subject, Marissa chooses the expert-led Tiger safari holidays organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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