NEW DELHI (AP) — In India, the number of wild tigers continues to increase. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Mysuru, Karnataka state, that there were 3,167 tigers in the country last year, compared to 2,967 in 2018.
India has by far the most endangered animal in the world, and its numbers are regularly determined using camera traps. “India is a country where preserving the environment is part of the culture,” Modi said. “That’s why there are so many unique successes in wildlife conservation.”
Tiger countries – in addition to India, this also includes Russia, China and many countries in South and Southeast Asia – have agreed to protect the animals. In 2010, in St. Petersburg, they set themselves the goal of doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022, the Chinese “Year of the Tiger”. According to official figures, there were 1,706 in India in 2010. “India hasn’t managed to double it, but Indian development is a success story like no other,” said WWF tiger expert Marcus Rady.
More tigers can also mean more conflicts with humans
In Hindu-majority India, tigers also have religious significance, and the government is also aware of the importance of tigers in wildlife tourism. Hunting tigers was banned in the 1970s, and the predators are less likely to be hunted in the country than in other countries due to strong vegetarian traditions. The government is also taking measures to defuse conflicts. For example, people who have lost relatives or livestock to tigers are compensated.
Because more tigers can also mean more conflicts with humans. With deforestation, human settlements are sometimes very close to predators. According to the WWF, the global range of tigers has shrunk by 95 percent in the past 100 years. This can lead to tigers killing people or their livestock – and then people killing tigers partly out of revenge.
The WWF maintains that tiger conservation only works with the consent of local people. Poaching is also a problem for tigers: Sometimes people illegally hunt big cats—partly because tiger parts are common in Chinese medicine. But tiger prey is also in their sights, which can lead to a lack of food.
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