A century ago, India’s wild lands were home to about 40,000 tigers. Today, it’s estimated only 1,000 tigers remain as a result of poachers and big game hunters.
The two reserves, Panna and Sariska National Park, no longer have a tiger population.
Many of the tigers have been lost due to Asia’s demand for tiger bones, claws and skin. The animal parts are used in traditional medicines.
Tigers have also died as a result of electric fences, illegal logging and fighting among the few remaining males.
Panna park, once home to 24 tigers, has had no sightings since January.
The Wildlife Institute of India had stated in 2007 that the nation’s tigers were doing well within the reserves but not in the protected forest areas. At that time it was urged though for measures to be taken to save the species.
National Geographic reported in 2007:
“Indian tigers are not entirely down and out,” said Sujoy Banerjee, head of the species conservation program at the Indian branch of the international conservation organization WWF.”But if we don’t wake up now, the only tigers we will see will be at the zoo.”
The number of tigers surveyed that year seemed to differ from conservation groups and the Indian government. It was stated that the government did not want to report that the number of animals had decreased as much as the wildlife groups had indicated.
As the numbers dwindled in 2008 wildlife experts urged the government to save the felines.
BBC reported then:
“It is now time to act and save tigers from human beings. We have to create inviolate areas for tigers and provide modern weapons to forest guards,” conservationist Valmik Thapar told Hindustan Times newspaper.
Valmir Thapar spoke to the Wall Street Journal about the demise of tigers in his native India.
In India, 18 per cent of the land that is left as forest land. As that land degrades, the water supply also degrades. The disappearance of the tiger is a sign of the destruction of the ecosystem, something that has an impact on the entire animal population including humans.
It is becoming doubtful that the tiger population in India can be saved.
Since as far back as 2005 the nation’s forest ministry sent warning bells to the government but the local authorities did not heed them.
Dr Raghu Chundawat, an independent scientist is one of those who has been sounding alarms. He says that the state government is still refusing to listen to the seriousness of the problem.
Ashok Kumar, deputy chair of the Wildlife Trust of India, believes that India can reverse the population decline with the tigers. “The long-term future of the tiger can be saved.”
That hope is echoed by Madhya Pradesh’s forest minister Rajendra Shukla reports the BBC:
“Panna is our only park which has lost on this count,” he says. “Three of state’s reserve forests – Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench – have been adjudged among the best managed tiger reserves in the country.”
That statement though may be overly hopeful. Experts believe that the population is already to small for tigers to have a viable future. Even if the population could right itself the lack of law enforcement stopping poachers puts the situation on a downward spiral. Factoring in the ever expanding human population in the tiger’s habitat brings the chance of survival for this magnificent feline down even lower.
Ireland Online reports:
“The government must address the core problem of sufficient protection.
“Unless heads roll, translocation of animals is not going to help as these too might be lost and the situation will not change,” Mr Bhargav, a member of the National Board for Wildlife in India said.