By Caitlin O’Kane
India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced good news from the country’s tiger census on International Tiger Day: The number of wild tigers has increased 33 percent in four years. There are an estimated 2,967 wild tigers in India, accounting for around 80 percent of the world’s population, according to the Status of Tigers in India – 2018 report released Monday.
At the Tiger Summit of St. Petersburg in 2010, world leaders pledged to double tiger numbers by 2022. Most of the workload falls on India, since the majority of the world’s tigers live there. India reached that goal four years early.
India has the fastest growing economy in the world but has not compromised on its conservation ethos, the census report claimed. The 1973 Project Tiger initiative, which includes habitat and animal rehabilitation, started out with nine tiger reserves. There are now 502 reserves across the country, covering about 2.21% of India’s geographical area.
Along with the National Tiger Conservation Authority, which oversees the yearly audit, India has successfully implemented several conservation initiatives. One of those initiatives — managing and protection tiger reserves through incentivized voluntary relocation of humans — has been one of the most important reasons for continued growth.
Prime Minister Modi said India is now one of the safest habitats in the world for tigers. However, humans still remain a threat to tigers who get too close to villages. Earlier this month, a group in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit killed an adult female tiger that had attacked nine villagers, the India Today reported. Video of the tiger being beaten with sticks and rods went viral.