July 29: International Tiger Day

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July 29 is celebrated as Global Tiger Day or International Tiger Day every year with the slogan “Their survival is in our hands”. It was established at the Global Tiger Summit at St. Petersburg in Russia in 2010 to raise awareness about the declining tiger population around the world, to promote the protection of natural tiger habitats and raise awareness and support for tiger conservation issues. Also in 2010 was established the Global Tiger Recovery Programme with the aim of doubling the global tiger population by 2022.

According to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), there are only 3,900 wild tigers left in the world and since the beginning of the 20th century, 95 per cent of the world’s wild tiger population has disappeared. Notably, the tiger range countries include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Tiger is the spirit of the Indian Jungle. The natural history of the world has probably not known any animal more than, or as awesome and magnificent as this super cat. Having already lost three of nine tiger sub-species, the world now supports only six sub-species or geographical variations. The Bali tiger, the Javan Tiger and the Caspian tiger have all gone extinct in the last 100 years.

Large efforts to preserve the National Animal of India, particularly Project Tiger to conserve Royal Bengal Tigers in the wild, are seen to be generally successful. However, there are still four main issues-poaching, habitat destruction, man-animal conflict, and diminishing prey base- that continue to threaten the future of the most iconic big cat in India.

Fifty years from now, by the year 2070, the entire Bengal tigers population in the Sundarbans is likely to be lost to climate change and sea-level rise, according to a modeling study by a team of researchers from Bangladesh and Australia. The Sundarbans are the world’s single-largest mangrove ecosystem still in existence, spanning a vast area of more than 6,000 sq km. 

As per the last estimation of 2014, India at present supports 2,226 tigers. Based on natural growth rate, the tiger population is now expected to register an increase of around 25-30%, with around 2,800 tigers in the wild. Conversations about tigers are more crucial now than ever for India.

Though International Tiger Day is commemorated every year with great fervor throughout the 13 Asia-Pacific tiger range-countries, this ninth year is of special significance for India. Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the much-awaited, anxiety-invoking results of the fourth four-yearly all India tiger estimation exercise carried out across the country in 2018.