UPSC PRELIMS 2020 : Tiger census Report

Tiger census Report

Topic: Tiger census Report

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment

 

Context:

Tiger census Report

All India Tiger Estimation – 2018  was released by the PM on the occasion of Global Tiger Day-2019.

  • According to results of the Tiger census, the total count of tigers has risen to 2,967 from 2,226 in 2014 — an increase of 741 individuals (aged more than one year), or 33%, in four years.
  • India has achieved the target of doubling the tiger count four years ahead of the deadline of 2022.
  • This is by far the biggest increasein Tiger count in terms of both numbers and percentage (since the four-yearly census using camera traps and the capture-mark-recapture method began in 2006).

 

Background:

  • . India is going to come out with All India Tiger Estimation, 2018 which would give a clear picture of the present condition of Tigers in India.
  • The government is striving hard to produce the most rational and scientific census.
  • The census is supervised by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
  • The census takes place every four years and this is the 4th edition of the census. The Tiger Estimation exercise is the world’s largest wildlife survey effort in terms of coverage, the intensity of sampling and quantum of camera trapping.
  • This 2018 tiger census uses more technology including a mobile app named “stripes” for the very first time to store information of the counting.

 

Key Findings

  • Top Performers: Madhya Pradeshsaw the highest number of tigers (526) followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand(442).
    • Increase in Tiger population:Madhya Pradesh (71%) > Maharashtra (64%) > Karnataka (29%).
  • Worst Performers:Chhattisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in tiger population.
    • Chhattisgarhis the only state out of the 20 tiger-bearing states where the 2018- census counted 19 tigers, significantly fewer than the 46 of 2014.
    • Decline in Tiger numbers in Chhattisgarh can be attributed to the law and orderproblem as large parts of the state are hit by the Maoist insurgency.
    • Greater conservation efforts are needed in the “critically vulnerable”Northeast hills and Odisha.
  • Tiger Sanctuaries:

An evaluation of India’s 50 tiger sanctuaries was also released along with the 4th National Tiger Estimation (Tiger census).

  • Madhya Pradesh’s Pench Sanctuaryand Kerala’s Periyar sanctuary emerged as the best-managed tiger reserves in the country.
  • Sathyamangalam Tiger Reservein Tamil Nadu registered the “maximum improvement” since 2014.
  • The Dampa and Rajaji reserves,in Mizoram and Uttarakhand respectively are at the bottom of the list in terms of Tiger count.
  • No tigerhas been found in the Buxa (West Bengal), Palamau (Jharkhand) and Dampa (Mizoram) reserves.

 

Methods used in the census:

Different methods are used to count the number tigers in a habitat scientifically. Use of technology and manpower go hand in hand for the census to happen.

  1. Pugmark Analysis: Pugmarks are recorded whenever an animal moves through the jungle over the suitable ground. Pugmarks are easy to find indirect evidence of an animal presence. With some basic training and an honest approach, the information contained in the pugmarks can be easily recorded through traces and plaster casts for analysis at a higher level. Pugmarks can provide reliable data of:
    • Presence of different species in the area of study.
    • The population of large cats
    • The sex ratio of large cats.
    • Identification of individual animals.

Issues with the Pugmark analysis

  • Surveying the entire area: In reality, only an unknown fraction of the 3,00,000 km2 that is considered habitable by tigers, is searched intensively during censuses.
  • There might be a repetition of counting of pugmarks.
  • Same tiger footprints could end up being traced by different persons.
  1. Poop Design: Abundance of scat shows that the density is high in the area. Analyzing the poop design also gives an idea of the type of animal.
  2. Line transects to estimate prey abundance :

Tape or string laid along the ground in a straight line between two poles as a guide to a sampling method used to measure the distribution of organisms. Sampling is rigorously confined to organisms that are actually touching the line.

  1. Camera traps:

Cameras are placed at certain intervals in space in the habitat. The cameras record the movements of tigers and they are counted depending on the number of stripes that a Tiger has. The gender and age can also be estimated by this method. However, in this method, the tiger has to come to the camera instead of an expert going in search of them. This becomes evident from the fact that compared to the exercise conducted in the year 2006, when 9, 700 cameras were put up, the 2018 Estimation will use nearly 15, 000 cameras.

 

Tiger Survey Data Anaysis:

  1. Occupancy Analysis: Data from replicate ground surveys were transferred to 10 x 10 km grids in a geographic information system. Occupancy of a grid by tigers was then modeled as a function of habitat characteristics, prey availability and human footprint while addressing imperfect detection of tiger signs from spatially replicated surveys. This analysis helps in understanding factors responsible for the presence of tigers, the spatial extent of tiger populations, and habitat connectivity between tiger populations.
  2. Abundance Analysis: We use likelihood-based spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) to estimate tiger abundance from camera trap data. Tiger photographs obtained from camera traps were digitized and analyzed using the program Extract Compare, a pattern recognition program specially developed to individually identify tigers from their striped coat pattern. For the national status assessment 2014, Spatially Explicit Capture-Recapture (SECR) in a joint distribution approach, with ecologically relevant covariates was used.
  3. Genetic Sampling: In areas where it was difficult to sample with camera traps and/or conduct ground surveys, we used non-invasive genetic sampling of tiger scats to detect tiger presence and in some cases the minimum number of tiger individuals.
  4. Maximum Entropy Models (MaxEnt): In the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram it is difficult to infer tiger abundance using robust SECR approach from camera trap data due to logistic constraints. In these states, some analysis confirmed tiger presence locations from tiger scat (confirmed by DNA profile) and opportunistic camera trap photos to model tiger habitat using program MaxEnt.

Tiger survey data analysis

 

Threats to Tiger Population:

  • Loss of habitat due to infrastructure constructions such as linear projects ( roads, railways, etc,.).
  • Frequent Human-animal conflict as tigers coming in contact with humans due to habitat fragmentation which is resulting in the killing of tigers.
  • Poaching is one of the biggest threats to tigers. The international demand for tiger products in the dark web is making the organized poachers to kill the tigers for ransom.
  • As the tiger is a carnivore, it depends on the other animals for the food. Loss of food due to the destruction of other animals is making tigers die of hunger or look for other sources of food making them come in contact with humans.

Need for Tiger Conservation

  • Tigers are at the top of the food chain and are sometimes referred to as “umbrella species”that is their conservation also conserve many other species in the same area.
  • The Tiger estimation exercise that includes habitat assessmentand prey estimation reflects the success or failure of Tiger conservation efforts.
  • More than 80%of the world’s wild tigers are in India, and it’s crucial to keep track of their numbers.

 

Conservation Efforts :

  1. Project Tiger:  Limit factors that lead to a reduction of tiger habitats and to mitigate them by suitable management and to ensure a viable population of tigers for economic, scientific, cultural, aesthetic and ecological values. Hence special Tiger reserves are created under this project.
  2. India has signed the Petersburg Declaration on 2010 with other tiger range nations to promise double its tiger population by 2022 which is called a Tx2 target.
  3. India is striving hard to increase the area of Tiger reserves under the CA|TS (Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards), which is a global standard for the tiger habitat conservation. At present only 13% of total reserves are under CA|TS.
  4. Interstate translocation of tigers is being done to spread the range of tigers in India.
  5. The Global Tiger Forum (GTF) was formed by all tiger range countries to consolidate all the national tiger action plans.
  6. Strict adherence to guidelines for responsible ecotourism in tiger ranges is followed.
  7. Financial and technical help is provided to the State Governments under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes, such as “Project Tiger” and “Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats” for enhancing the capacity and infrastructure of the State Governments for providing effective protection to wild animals.
  8. Creation of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF):-The Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) has been made operational in the States of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Odisha out of 13 initially selected tiger reserves, with 60% central assistance under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger.

 

Sample Question:

How many tigers are there in India according to the All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018?

A.1,411

B.1,765

C.2,226

D.2,967

 

Answer: D