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It is beyond any doubt that tigers are one of the most iconic animals on this planet. If we could go back in time, we would have seen how about a century ago, more than 1,00,000 tigers used to roam the earth. Cut to the present, today the same number has been reduced to an alarming low count.

Every year, International Tiger Day is celebrated globally to create a natural habitat for the tigers and awareness amid people regarding their conservation. In 2010, it was created at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit.

International Tiger Day

From 2,226 in 2014, the population of tigers in India has now increased to 2,967 in 2018, a rise of 33 percent, according to the latest tiger census report. “The results of the just declared tiger census would make every Indian, every nature lover happy,” PM Modi said.

It was decided in St. Petersburg that the target of doubling tiger population would be the year 2022, but we achieved it in advance. Today, we can proudly say that with nearly 3000 tigers, India is one of the world’s biggest and most secure habitats,” said PM Narendra Modi while releasing the All India Tigers Estimation Report 2018 today on Monday, July 29.

Nepal, one of the 13 tiger range countries that have pledged to double their wild tiger population by 2022, through a part of their initiative known as TX2, mentioned a WWF report. The year 2022 is also the next Chinese year of the tiger.

But, what are we doing to increase the count of this magnificent animal which is now on the list of endangered species because of sheer human stupidity? Deforestation and rampant poaching are the primary reasons why the world has lost over 95 percent of its wild tiger population.

Madhya Pradesh, which was once declared as the “Tiger State of India” is right now trending on Twitter with this same hashtag #TigerStateOfIndia (sponsored by MP government). But it has been continuously losing its highest number of tigers, every year.

But, according to The Week report, there have been 14 tiger deaths in 2019 that which the forest officials have confirmed. The best available data also confirmed that about 97 tigers have died in this state since January 2016 and that many of them were also victims of poaching.

In 1973, the National Tiger Conservation Authorities (NTCA) was created by the government of India to conserve its national animal, the tiger, by launching the ‘Project Tiger’. The survey is done every four years and 2014 census mentioned that the Karnataka had the highest count- 406 tigers, while Madhya Pradesh had 308, Uttarakhand, 340, and Tamil Nadu had 229.

In my experience of working with the local communities of Sundarbans, I have felt that unlike projected everywhere else, the communities have reached a position where they are aware of the need for conservation. They know that they are dependant on natural resources, for which they need the forests to thrive. This is only possible if they work towards a peaceful co-existence. It has been observed that over time, local communities of Sundarbans have been more tolerant towards tiger straying incidents in their village. And instead of being violent towards the big cat, they handle the situation tactfully by informing the forest officials and Joint Forest Management Committee members. This way, the relationship between the forest department and the local communities become better too.” Debopriya Mondal, a conservation professional from Kolkata said to LBN.

Counting the number of tigers almost feels like counting their life or pulse for that matter. This International Day, can we become a hero for tigers and double their numbers?