International Tiger Day: UP Lagging Behind the Target Set in 2010

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In 2010, at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia it was decided to celebrate July 29 every year as International Tiger Day. The objective was to double the number of tigers by 2022.

In the year 2010, the total tiger count was 1706 in India. There were 257 tigers in Madhya Pradesh, 227 in Uttarakhand, 300 in Karnataka, and 118 in Uttar Pradesh. According to a 2018 report, the total number of tigers in 20 states was 2967. According to the 2018 census, there were 526 tigers in Madhya Pradesh, 442 in Uttarakhand, 173 in UP, and 524 in Karnataka. Except for UP, the three other states have almost achieved the target set in 2010.

UP Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life) PK Sharma said that there is a reason why there are so few tigers in UP despite the state having two tiger reserves. According to him, there were not many tigers in Pilibhit and Dudhwa. The number of tigers in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve has seemingly more than doubled in the last four years. In 2014, there were only 25 tigers but in 2018 there were 65. While the Pilibhit Reserve might have become saturated, there is enough scope for increasing the count in Dudhwa, said Sharma, adding that efforts were on to increase the tiger count.

However, it is also true that the tiger count would have been higher if some tigers had not met with premature deaths. Reasons for their untimely death are diverse, ranging from human-tiger conflict to road accidents and poaching. The biggest threat to tigers is their shrinking habitat. Thus, the work of preserving the existing tigers is currently more important than increasing their number, say experts. The work of connecting various tiger reserves through corridors is currently going on at a fast pace. Corridors are the natural routes that help the striped cats shuttle between forests. Human interference in these corridors has incapacitated these corridors to a great extent. PK Sharma said that efforts are being made to re-model Kishanpur, Lagga-Bagga, Khata, Surai, and many other corridors in such a way that tigers can easily move from one reserve to the other.

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