How many tigers are there in India 2023?
Well, today, we can answer the question in the title with a certain amount of accuracy because the World Wildlife Fund for Nature has recently reported that they have recorded 3,167 tigers in India which is more than double the 1,411 recorded when the census began in 2006.
|Camera trap counts a tiger. 7-Tiger CT_©Ullas Karanth-WCS|
This information is fresh in news media today and I am looking at a report in The Times dated Tuesday, April 11, 2023.
They used cameras traps which made the recording of tiger numbers more accurate. In the past they used scats i.e. faeces and pug marks (paw prints) to count tigers or estimate their numbers.
They know the tigers' habitats. They place 32,500 cameras in these habitats mounted on trees or posts. They take millions of photographs automatically because they are motion sensor activated.
The cameras are set up in pairs which allows them to capture both sides of each tiger and record the stripes which are unique like a human fingerprint.
In this way they can identify each tiger separately and count them more accurately.
The images these days are analysed through artificial intelligence (AI) software rather than visually by people. This greatly speeds up the assessments. And it is more accurate.
Although, the technology is not foolproof.
This is because sometimes a tiger appears on camera at an angle which can confuse the software.
Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, said, "Just as we are celebrating 75 years of independence, 75% of the global tiger population is in India."
The success, which I think by the way is more a political PR exercise than anything else, is down to Project Tiger which began in 1973 at which time India had 1,827 tigers in nine reserves.
Today there are 53 reserves and about 70% of the global tiger population is in India. The other major tiger population is in Siberia where the Siberian tiger lives and those numbers are at about 500.
A tiger consensus in 2018 marked an increase of 33% in the tiger population. The recent census indicated a 6.7% increase or 200 tigers which seems modest but the experts say that it is significant.
India's tigers are concentrated in six states. There is no more space for wildlife reserves.
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