What WWF-India is doing to save the tiger?
At the turn of the 20th century, according to sources, India had an estimated 40,000 tigers in the wild. In 2002, based on pug mark census, this number was 3,642. As per the monitoring exercise by Wildlife Institute of India in association with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Government of India using camera traps, in 2008 we were left with only 1,411 tigers. This number is so small that they will be gone soon if we don’t wake up to the crisis.
WWF-India aims for a strategic and focused approach in its tiger conservation efforts. Our goal is to restore, maintain and protect tigers as well as their habitat and prey base in important tiger landscapes in India.
The objectives are to:
- Protect, restore corridors to ensure connectivity between tiger habitats while ensuring that human-tiger conflicts are reduced.
- Reduce pressures on the tiger habitats by promoting alternative livelihoods for local communities in and around tiger habitats.
- Create incentives for local communities as well as state and regional government and opinion-makers to support tiger conservation.
- Enhance capacities of the Forest Department to control poaching of tigers and prey species.
- Provide policy inputs at state and central levels to ensure effective measures for conservation of tigers and their habitats.
- Promote the political will as well as popular support within all sectors of society for tiger conservation.
What you can do to save the tiger?
The tiger is not just a charismatic species. It’s not just a wild animal living in some forest either. The tiger is a unique animal which plays a pivotal role in the health and diversity of an ecosystem. It is a top predator and is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. Therefore the presence of tigers in the forest is an indicator of the well being of the ecosystem. The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.
If the tigers go extinct, the entire system would collapse. For e.g. when the Dodos went extinct in Mauritius, one species of Acacia tree stopped regenerating completely. So when a species goes extinct, it leaves behind a scar, which affects the entire ecosystem. Another reason why we need to save the tiger is that our forests are water catchment areas.
When we protect one tiger, we protect about a 100 sq. km of area and thus save other species living in its habitat. Therefore, it’s not just about saving a beautiful animal. It is about making sure that we live a little longer as the forests are known to provide ecological services like clean air, water, pollination, temperature regulation etc. This way, our planet can still be home to our children.