While conservation efforts are aimed at increasing the tiger count in India, global experts and officials in the government suggest that India must also prepare for a new challenge — of reaching the limits of its management capacity.
Officially, India had 2,226 tigers as of 2014. An ongoing census is expected to reveal an update to these numbers. But Rajesh Gopal, head of the Global Tiger Forum, said that India’s current capacity to host tigers ranged from 2,500-3,000 tigers.
Moreover, said another official, 25-35% of India’s tigers now lived outside protected reserves.
With dwindling core forest as well as the shrinking of tiger corridors (strips of land that allow tigers to move unfettered across diverse habitat), officials said there were several challenges — alongside the traditional challenges of poaching and man-animal conflict — to India’s success at tiger conservation. Recent attempts at translocating tigers to unpopulated reserves, such as Satkosia in Orissa, have ended badly, with one of the tigers dying.
Mr. Gopal was speaking at a conference of representatives from a group of countries who’ve signed a declaration to double tiger numbers by 2022, organised by the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Barring China, all other tiger-range countries — Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, India and Nepal — were part of the conference in New Delhi on Monday.