There is great news on the tiger conservation front. For the first time in 100 years the tiger population is growing and many Asian countries can collectively take credit for a sustained effort lasting several decades. India can be particularly proud as it has contributed the most to the growth in the population of the striped big cats. The rise — from 3,200 in 2010 to 3,890 tigers in the wild now, according to the World Wildlife Fund — can in part also be attributed to better reporting thanks to the rising use of technology in remote cameras.
Increasing tiger populations in Russia, Nepal and Bhutan have also added to the general optimism. But WWF reminds us that much more needs to be done if the target of doubling the current population by 2022 is to be met. There has been a definitive improvement in tiger protection methods, which will be stressed at the Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation in India, a country spending at least Rs 380 crore annually on special conservation projects.
The one grey area is still Southeast Asia where the tiger is coveted for reasons other than being simply adored as a reflection of nature’s indescribable beauty. Parts of the tiger are sought as a prize for their supposed ability to cure diseases as well as for supposed aphrodisiac qualities. Little can be done to convince people who profess faith in such obscurantist beliefs. Sustaining conservation of tigers by following the path already laid out is all the more vital. Remember, a million species have been wiped off the face of the Earth in the last 2,000 years.