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03 December 2023

Tiger, tiger burning bright in Indian habitat

Raja, an eight-year-old rescued Royal Bengal Tiger, rests inside South Kahayar Bari tiger rescue centre at Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, about 160 km (99 miles) north of the eastern Indian city of Siliguri. (Reuters)

By Reuters

India's tiger population has increased by nearly a third to 2,226, a government survey showed on Tuesday, boosting conservation efforts in the country with the biggest population of the endangered big cats.

The 2014 Status of Tigers in India report said tiger numbers rose by 30.5 percent in four years, up from 1,706 tracked in the 2010 tiger census and just 1,411 animals four years previously.

"At a time when the global tiger population is under threat, it is heartening that India's tiger numbers are increasing," Prakash Javadekar, India's environment minister, said while releasing the study's findings.

"This was not the situation a decade ago," Javadekar was quoted as saying in a statement by conservation group WWF.

The latest numbers were gleaned using modern methodology and images collected from over 9,700 camera trap locations in 18 Indian states.

Conservation experts credit the increase to better management and policing of tiger habitats across the country.

"These results confirm that more than half of the world's tigers are in India," said Ravi Singh, secretary-general and CEO of WWF-India, one of the stakeholders in the survey.

India was home to an estimated 40,000 tigers at the turn of the last century, but poaching and the loss of habitat brought them to the brink to extinction.