ATR panel assesses the progress of the tiger rewilding project
A commission led by the Chief Wildlife Warden visited the enclosure in the core region of the Annamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) on Thursday to review the progress of the Forest Department’s first attempt at rewilding a tiger rescued as an abandoned youngster in 2021.
What is the background behind Project Tiger?
- The Government of India initiated Project Tiger in 1973 to safeguard the Bengal tiger population, which was in decline owing to killing and habitat destruction.
- The initiative began in nine tiger reserves spread across the country, totalling 16,339 square kilometres. Since then, the initiative has grown to include 53 tiger reserves spread over 18 states, totalling 75,796 square kilometres.
- Project Tiger’s main goals are to safeguard and conserve the Bengal tiger population, maintain their habitat, and reduce human-tiger conflicts.
- The initiative includes habitat management, protection of the tiger’s prey base, anti-poaching measures, and community participation in conservation activities.
- Project Tiger commemorated its 50th anniversary in 2022, with activities organized across the country to promote awareness about tiger conservation and recognize the project’s accomplishments.
What does the recent data indicate about the growth in the tiger population?
- Tiger Population Growth: The number of tigers in India climbed to 3,682 in 2022 from 2,967 in 2018, indicating that conservation measures are having a good impact.
- Decade-Wise Growth: The tiger population has grown over the previous ten years, as evidenced by the 2,226 tigers reported in 2014 compared to 1,706 in 2010, which shows a consistent rise in numbers.
- Distribution of Tigers by State: Madhya Pradesh, with 785 individuals, had the most, followed by Karnataka (563), Uttarakhand (560), and Maharashtra (444).
- Tigers Outside Protected Areas: Nearly a quarter of the tigers were reported to be outside of authorized tiger reserves, highlighting the significance of additional conservation measures.
- States with Smaller Tiger Populations: Mizoram, Nagaland, Jharkhand, Goa, Chhattisgarh, and Arunachal Pradesh reported “disquieting trends” with smaller tiger populations, requiring special attention and conservation measures.
Where is ATR situated at?
- Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) is a 958.59-square-kilometer protected area in the Western Ghats’ Anaimalai Hills. It is situated in the Tamil Nadu state’s Coimbatore district.
- The reserve is home to:
- Tropical jungle, shola woodland, and grassland can all be found in the reserve.
- Aliyar, Uppar, and Nirar rivers are among them.
- There are over 25 tigers.
- There are around 70 different species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
What are the criteria followed when releasing a rescued tiger from the captive?
- The rescued tiger, discovered on a tea estate in Valparai in September 2021, is now about 30 months old.
- Srinivas R. Reddy, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden formed a committee with experts from the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Wildlife Institute of India to determine whether the tiger is ready for release back into the wild.
- Multiple parameters are included in the evaluation, including:
- Health evaluation: The committee evaluates the tiger’s general health to ensure it is suited for survival in the wild.
- Hunting Capability: Surveillance camera video is used to assess the tiger’s capacity to hunt tiny herbivores placed in the enclosure over time.
- Based on their visit and assessment, the committee will write a full report.
The committee will produce a full report after their inspection and assessment, which will be presented to the Chief Wildlife Warden. Based on the contents of this research, a decision will be taken about releasing the tiger back into its native habitat. This procedure is critical for ensuring the tiger can effectively adapt to its new environment and contribute to conservation efforts in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve.