While the most popular Tiger safari itineraries take in the magnificent national parks and reserves of the Indian subcontinent, they are not the only wild habitats of this secretive big cat. The six extant species of Panthera tigris are spread throughout Asia, northern China and the far east of Russia; an unfortunate common thread running through all these wild populations, however, is the animal’s vulnerability. |
Conserving Panthera tigris
In the past few decades, dedicated conservation programmes have been stepped up as the species’ declining numbers have reached an all-time low. This global recognition has seen the establishment of numerous successful initiatives around the world.
In 2010, Bhutan’s Royal Manas National Park was home to just 10 Tigers. Today, as a result of its sustained conservation efforts, that number has more than doubled. As the country’s oldest national park, and a haven of rich biodiversity, it is considered a conservation showcase - home not only to the big cat but also a host of other exotic plants and wildlife. In light of this excellent result, the park’s manager has thanked the world-renowned WWF (World Wildlife Fund), the local community and his own park rangers. He has also stressed the importance of trans-boundary co-operation with the Indian side of the Manas National Park and the assistance and support of the Bhutan national government.
Together with the WWF, the government of Kazakhstan has pledged to re-establish a wild population of the big cat in one of its historic ranges, Ili-Balkhash, 70 years after the last Tiger became extinct. It is the first country to sign such an ambitious agreement and, if successful, it will make be the first to reintroduce the animal back to Central Asia, where it has been extinct for over 50 years.
The plan is to restore a vast tract of riparian forest and create a new nature reserve in Ili-Balkhash. This will help preserve existing wildlife species, conserve the delicate balance of the Lake Balkhash ecosystem and provide a home for reintroduced prey species for the big cat.
Along with other agencies, the WWF is involved in widespread conservation initiatives throughout India. Their aim is to restore critical habitat areas with a view to “stabilising and increasing Tiger populations across the country”. They continue to work with the government, local communities and forestry departments in projects including monitoring, research and data gathering, mitigating the effects of human conflict, protection against poaching and hunting of the big cat and its prey species, education, policy and advocacy. In India, the WWF is currently involved in initiatives in the Sundarbans, North Bank, Terai Arc, Western Ghats-Nilgiris, Satpuda-Maikal, Kaziranga-Karbi, as well as numerous dedicated reserves, including Panna and Ranthambore.
Support Tx2 on a Tiger Safari
So far, 13 countries have made a commitment to the so-called Tx2 goal: the effort to double the numbers of the big cat in the wild by 2022. Responsible ecotourism is just one of the ways in which they’re doing it, and those who travel to the Indian subcontinent on a Tiger safari can be assured they’re playing their part to help preserve this beautiful wild animal.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Tiger watching. As a passionate lover of wildlife, Marissa chooses the expert-led Tiger safari itineraries organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of species in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
Related Articles -