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GS-III :

How the tiger can regain its stripes

  • 13 August, 2020

  • 8 Min Read

How the tiger can regain its stripes

Context:

  • The most recent estimation of tiger population in India has noted that there has been an increase in tigers from about 2,000 in 1970 to around 3,000 presently.
  • K Ullas Karanth, a leading tiger expert in India, points out serious concerns regarding tiger conservation efforts in India.

Low growth rate of tiger population:

  • Despite, the fact that Tiger population has increased in India and despite India having done better than other tiger range countries, the annual growth rate remains very low.
  • Given the expansive land base of India, it has the potential to hold 10,000 to 15,000 wild tigers. However there seems to be no goal or plan to realize this potential.

Regional disparity:

  • The tiger population recovery has not been even throughout the country and has only been sporadic in a few reserves.

Cost-effect analysis:

  • The governments have been investing heavily, but not very intelligently, in tiger conservation. Excessive funding of a few reserves while neglecting large areas with greater recovery potential have become a concern.
  • There seems to be the emphasis on the massively funded eco-development activities in tiger reserves. This calls into question the efficiency of the investments.
  • The article laments that the unnecessary and massive borrowings from the Global Environment Facility-World Bank combine to create new models for tiger recovery.

Government monopoly:

  • A major concern of the current conservation policy is the government monopoly over tiger management which has led to the lack of data transparency and rigorous, independent tiger monitoring.

Policy mistakes:

  • The implementation of the Forest Rights Act of 2006 has opened up the wildlife habitats for cultivation and exploitation by loosely defined “forest-dwellers”. The subsequent impact on tiger habitats has been severe.
  • The Tiger Task Force (TTF) was appointed in 2005, to review the status of the tigers in India. The author argues that the task force driven by its urge to maintain politically correct ideologies and based on inappropriate interpretation of the available scientific studies resulted in a report by the TTF that created a tiger management model that only enlarged the influence of the forest bureaucracy and did nothing to help tiger conservation efforts.
  • Institutions like the National Tiger Conservation Authority have increased in size, taking under it schemes totally unrelated to tigers, such as the recovery of snow leopards and translocation of African cheetahs to India. This would have a detrimental impact on the effectiveness of the organization.

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

 

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) was established in 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force.
  • The NTCA would be responsible for implementation of the Project Tiger plan to protect endangered tigers.
  • The NTCA would lay down normative standards, guidelines for tiger conservation in the Tiger Reserves, apart from National Parks and Sanctuaries.
  • The NTCA would also facilitate and support tiger reserve management in the States through eco-development and people’s participation.

 

 

Way forward:

  • The author calls for winding down bureaucracy’s role in conservation efforts and argues for restricting the forest bureaucracy’s role to enforcement of wildlife law.
  • The author argues that merging Project Tiger with other Central schemes for wildlife conservation could be a good start in this direction.
  • Government monopoly over domains of tiger conservation such as tiger research, monitoring, nature education, tourism and conflict mitigation should be done away with and the private enterprises, local communities, NGOs and scientific institutions should be involved in tiger conservation efforts.
  • There is the need to recognize the existing challenges in tiger conservation and address them in future policies.
  • There is the need to adopt a more sustainable model of development balancing the need to conserve the environment while also addressing the need for human development.

Source: TH

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