International Tiger Day is celebrated every year on July 29. It is observed to raise awareness about tiger conservation and preserving their natural habitats. Created in 2010, at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit, International Tiger Day is an attempt towards protecting the species across the world.
Tigers are an important part of the ecosystem. They are considered to be the ‘Keystone’ species. Such species are those which can hold the ecosystem together. Therefore, a good tiger population represents a healthy ecosystem. As the number of tigers was an all-time low of 3200 in 2010, WWF along with 13 countries started a ‘Double Tiger’ campaign. In this, all the 13 countries decided to take measures to double the number of tigers by 2022.
Interesting facts to know about tigers:
India’s Tiger Population
India is home to almost 75% of the world’s tiger population. Every 4 years, India puts a count of its tiger population. Successfully, it has managed to protect the species and the number of tigers in the country has been continuously increasing since the launch of Project Tiger.
In 2006, India’s tiger population was 1411. This number has now increased to 2967.
On the occasion of International Tiger Day, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted about India’s success in preserving the species. According to a report by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the number of tigers is increasing by 6% every year in India.
Tiger population in Different States
The highest number of tiger population is in Madhya Pradesh which is 526. This is followed by Karnataka where tiger population is of 524. Uttarakhand has 442 tigers whereas Maharashtra has a tiger population of 317. This is followed by Tamil Nadu where the number of tiger stands at 264. Further, Assam and Kerala have a tiger population of 190 whereas Uttar Pradesh has 173 tigers.
Project Tiger, a tiger conservation programme, was launched by the Government of India in 1973. Under this project, the government aims to protect the dwindling tiger population and increase their numbers. The project proposes to preserve the natural habitat of tigers so that they can breed and reproduce. To tackle poachers, the government had also created a Tiger Protection Force. It also funded the relocation of many villagers from areas which were near tiger habitats.
The programme thus aimed at reducing factors that led to a depletion of tiger habitats and ensuring viable tiger population for economic, scientific, cultural, aesthetic and ecological values. At the beginning of the project, only 9 tiger reserves were there in India. But now, the number of tiger reserves has increased to 50. Out of these, the Jim Corbett National Park is home to 231 tigers, the highest of all. It has a tiger density of 14. This is followed by Nagarhole National Park having 127 tigers and Bandipore National Park which has 126 tigers.
Every year, several countries organize awareness campaigns on International Tiger Day. Competitions are organized for the same. The aim is to educate people about the species, its importance to the environment and the dangers they face today.