The Reasons for Decrease in Tiger Population

Tiger in the Jungle

The combination of grace, strength, agility and enormous power has earned the Tiger its pride of place as the National Animal of India. The Royal Bengal Tiger is the pride of our nation and its decreasing population is a major concern for us. There are a lot of reasons for this decrease in the number of Tigers. 

Tiger population has declined in numbers because of Habitat loss. Urbanization and fragmentation in tiger corridors are the major reasons for their decrease. The forests are cut, highways and cities are built on the so called forest lands which cut the natural corridors for the Tigers thus exposing them. To share an example, earlier the Chambal River between Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and PalpurKuno Tiger Sanctuary acted as a natural corridor for tiger movement between the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

With reduced river bed, now the corridor is a threat to the movement of Tigers. This habitat loss is impacting to the decrease in the numbers of Big cats in lot more ways. The situation looks very despairing/ gloomy as a loss of natural habitat is in a way impacting the overall food chain and cramping not only tigers but all other species for space.  

Both Global warming and climate change have resulted in the rise of sea levels which is wiping out the Sundarbans, the largest tiger habitat of the Royal Bengal Tigers in the Bay of Bengal Region. Tigers are extremely territorial and are always on a lookout to expand their territory which may vary from 15 sq kms to 30sq.kms. approx. The loss of habitat due to the ever-rising sea level has resulted in Territorial wars with dire consequences, fatalities and even deaths. Only the powerful ones survive and reproduce to carry forward their genes to the future generations. 

Man-animal conflict is another major factor that affects the big cats. With fast growing population of Humans, who are moving deeper into the territory of tigers, chances of conflict between both sides are increasing manifolds. Men and livestock often become the victim of tiger attacks. This infuriates villagers who resort to revenge killing of the Big cats. The recent movie ‘Sherni’ highlights the same conflict of Man Vs Animal.

Tiger poaching is another major threat resulting in the decrease of Tiger population. Areas around the parks are easy targets for poachers. It has now been established that the trade of Tiger body parts destined for the use in Oriental Medicine within and outside Indian Borders is posing an even larger threat. Indian Forest and Wildlife departments are of least priority and lack attention of the State Departments. The forest departments usually suffer from the scarcity of funds which considerably weakens their backbone resulting in under staffing, less equipped vehicles, poor communication controls, inadequate number of well-equipped Forest Rangers to take on the girth of the negative elements. 

Now the big question is ‘How do we conserve the Tigers’

Jointly as a Nation we can take steps to save our National Animal - The Royal Bengal Tiger. We must do whatever we can within our powers to ensure their survival and make sure our future generations can also enjoy their beauty and presence. 

We should ensure free walkway/natural corridors for the animals to walk through different states. Most of the National Tiger reserves are connected to each other however a few areas need immediate attention of the Forest Department and Center Government. These corridors would ensure Tigers to move freely without any hindrances, explore new territories with better food resources and eventually reducing Territorial fights.

The State Governments should focus more on Forest and Wildlife department and support them with adequate funds. The Funds can be utilized on gearing up with better technologies, better medical support, arms and ammunitions, camera traps, better surveillance vehicles and fight poachers who are a threat to the Tigers - the endangered species. With more funds Forest departments can hire more staff for patrolling and also use drones to monitor the core areas. Solar panels can be installed deep in the forests and check-posts can be set up to maintain secured territories for the Tigers.

Last but not the least the Villages should be relocated out of the Forest core areas and Tiger reserves so that no Human Animal Conflict should happen. The Villagers should be educated on conservation and provided with alternative means of livelihood along with Jobs to monitor and patrol the Forest Areas as they would be the best people to know the topography and geography of the Forests and should be paid well so that they are able to sustain their families. 

At personal level, I am trying my best to spread awareness on ‘Save the Tiger’ campaign and urge fellow citizens of India and across the globe to save the Endangered species from extinction.

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