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News archive
Published on : 2028-09-07
September 14th : china offers to other asean countries to make a particular effort and take strong initiatives to fight poaching and traffic   Read more

Published on : 2024-03-08
24 december 2007: thaï forests can home 2000 tigers   Read more

Published on : 2024-03-08
31 january: strong indian plan to save tigers. will it be enough?   Read more

Published on : 2024-03-08
13 february 2008: associating forest people rather than excluding them   Read more

Published on : 2024-03-08
14 february 2008: 8000kms long corridor for tigers   Read more

Published on : 2024-03-08
17 february: in front of death. soon no more subspecies in tigers   Read more

Published on : 2020-11-07
2008: india come back?   Read more

Published on : 2020-11-07
2008: india come back?   Read more

Published on : 2020-11-07
A marvellous instance of harmony building   Read more

Published on : 2012-11-07
Tigers rediscovered in india   Read more

Published on : 2012-11-07
Amur tiger festival   Read more

Published on : 2012-11-07
New indian elements and thapar despair   Read more

Published on : 2012-11-07
Captivity weakens tigers   Read more

Published on : 2012-11-07
Indians want to believe that it is still possible to save wild tigers   Read more

Published on : 2012-11-07
"cautious optimism"of americans about siberian tigers...against evidency   Read more

Published on : 2012-11-07
Indonesians hide diversity richness to destroy forests without any opposition   Read more

Published on : 2011-11-07
Europa in the heart of tiger trade   Read more

Published on : 2008-12-07
New threats and reactions   Read more

Published on : 2008-12-07
A decisive victory for rewilding process   Read more

Published on : 2008-07-27
Tremendous frozen chambers   Read more

Published on : 2007-09-05
Galhano alves exposition   Read more

Published on : 2007-09-03
Tigers in freezer   Read more

Published on : 2007-08-30
Decisions of indian government   Read more

Published on : 2007-08-29
Sunderbans under water*-   Read more

Published on : 2007-08-27
Li quan against mafia tigers protection   Read more

Published on : 2007-08-21
Empty panna !   Read more

Published on : 2007-08-17
Russian custom officers confiscated hundreds of bear paws   Read more

Published on : 2007-08-15
Tigers: new formula to secure future instead of fruitless trade controversy   Read more

Published on : 2007-08-09
Armand farraci is published in the french version of « the ecologist »   Read more

Published on : 2007-08-04
An open letter of nirmal ghosh to barun mitra   Read more

Published on : 2007-08-03
Less than 1500 tigers in india   Read more

Published on : 2007-07-30
More on tiger trade controversy   Read more

Published on : 2007-07-27
Thibetan festival goers ordered to wear fur   Read more

Published on : 2007-07-22
Death of shiv kumar patel   Read more

Published on : 2007-07-16
Come back from cambodia of véronique audibert   Read more

Published on : 2007-07-14
Rewilding captive tigers   Read more

Published on : 2007-07-08
Wang wei hopes a lifting of the trade ban.   Read more

Published on : 2007-07-01
Tiger farms workshop   Read more

Published on : 2007-06-26
Marine crocodiles against tiger poaching   Read more

Published on : 2007-06-22
Barun mitra controversy   Read more

Published on : 2007-06-13
Tiger trade and tiger farms forbidden   Read more

Published on : 2007-06-04
Three black tigers in orissa   Read more

Published on : 2007-05-24
Only 500 tigers in 27 indian reserves   Read more

Published on : 0000-00-00
A chinese tiger rediscovered in the wild for the first time since decades?   Read more

Published on: 2024-03-08
19 February 2008: indian tigers: 800, 1400, 2000?


19 February 2008. Indian Express
So many ways to count a cat (more than 1400 ?)
K. Ullas Karanth
Director, Centre for Wildlife Studies, Wildlife Conservation Society, India Programme, Bangalore
We have counted our wild tigers once again: headlines proclaim there are only 1411 tigers left in India. Government has been trotting out such numbers every five years for decades, Should we be bothered any more?
Media have been quick to jump in and proclaim a 50 per cent tiger decline in last five years comparing these to earlier numbers. This makes no sense: although tigers have indeed been in trouble for decades, the present and past tiger numbers cannot be compared at all. The new survey is simply a starting point, after the government wasted four decades conducting ‘pugmark censuses’ that generated all earlier tiger numbers.
Ever since Orissa forester S.R. Choudhury invented his home-grown census method forty years ago, it was implemented faithfully by his followers across the country. This was not a bad thing initially: at least it got India’s notoriously logging-oriented foresters interested in tigers. The problem is, the pugmark census method, which never passed scientific muster, does not work.
Ultimately this farce blew up in the face of a complacent central government five years ago when Sariska Tiger Reserve, which claimed a population of 26 tigers, had no tigers left in it. The resulting public relations disaster compelled the prime minister to appoint a Tiger Task Force (TTF). Despite its many weaknesses, TTF clearly recommended that the ‘pugmark census’ was invalid and should be abandoned in favour of modern approaches. In this context, it should be noted that a similar initiative by director of Project Tiger, P.K. Sen, was thwarted in 1997, by the non-cooperation of his colleagues in the government.

Although TTF suggested the participation of outside scientists, the government opted to continue its own monopoly over counting tigers by seeking help from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to come up with a new scheme for counting tigers. After two years of massive effort, the results of the survey have been announced in a report titled ‘Status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India’ authored by Yadavendra Jhala, Rajesh Gopal and Qamar Qureshi.
In summary, the report says there are about 1400 adult tigers in India. These numbers do not include Sundarban and some other forests of central and southeastern India, which could not be surveyed due to either logistical constraints or security issues. Therefore, including cubs and juveniles, there should be over 2000 tigers in India based on this report. Without a closer scrutiny of the survey methods and the data generated, it is difficult to assess how valid these population estimates are. But they do provide the first logical attempt in 40 years at generating such country-wide estimates.
The report shows that Central Indian forests, Western Ghats and parts of the Terai account for 80 per cent of India’s wild tigers. Particularly, a few key forest habitats around Kanha (Madhya Pradesh), Nagarahole-Bandipur (Karnataka) and alluvial grasslands around Corbett, Dudwa and Kaziranga in the Terai, harbour almost 40 per cent of India’s tigers. Equally striking is the stark fact that despite having far more extensive forests, tigers have been virtually extirpated from large parts of the tribal-dominated, underdeveloped regions of northern Andhra, Jharkand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and northeastern hill states.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority-Wildlife Institute of India report signals a decisive shift away from the past unscientific practice trying to “census” wildlife populations to a more global standard based on statistical sampling. It reaffirms what tiger biologists have known for years: tigers, particularly their reproducing populations, are now virtually restricted to protected areas that constitute less than 4 per cent of our land. The “60 per cent tigers outside protected areas” that a lot of lay conservationists believed was based on pugmark censuses is a myth. These remaining protected tiger refuges can’t survive any more intensified human uses.
Well-established intellectual foundations underlie its key individual elements of the survey: photo-graphic capture sampling of tiger numbers at core sites, estimation of prey abundance from line transects and assessment of spatial distributions using landscape ecological tools. Therefore, shortcomings of this survey can in future be refined through universally accepted process of scientific peer-review.

Indeed there are shortcomings too: the models through which various sampling elements of the survey - tiger density, prey surveys, habitat and other geographic attributes - have been calibrated and interlinked are unclear and hopefully will receive deeper scientific scrutiny. So is the case with sample sizes and estimation models used for deriving tiger and prey densities at core sites. There appears to be room for improvements in both the “occupancy survey” and the “transect estimation” components too.
It is clear from the report itself that tigers are in deep trouble across of much of the region, including many protected tiger reserves. However, the report contradicts its own findings with its sweeping claim that the problem of tiger declines is primarily restricted to areas outside these.
Where do we go from here? Obviously, our remaining core tiger populations need to be monitored intensively every year as has been demonstrated by our centre in working in association with Karnataka Forest Department for two decades. The NTCA-WII survey that involved the entire country, required 500,000 man-days of effort at a cost to the tax-payer of Rs 13 crore, cannot be a practical future monitoring solution.
I strongly believe that developing new partnerships with qualified scientists who can bring in skills, manpower and resources from outside the government sector should be the next step. This will bring greater transparency to the national efforts to save our biological and economic assets that lie unnoticed under the tiger’s umbrella. Whether the government can now draw on its dwindling reservoir of political will to establish a genuine science-driven, public-private partnership to monitor the fate of wild India remains to be seen. I hope it can.
Alain Sennepin