As many as 32 tigers have died this year, even as latest official data showed an increase in the population estimates of the big cats. Of these, 18 were natural deaths, Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said.

Expressing concern over the endangered status of the tiger the world over, Ms. Natarajan on Tuesday said the Ministry was looking into the reasons for the deaths.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the first stocktaking meeting of the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP), Ms. Natarajan said poaching was one of the reasons. Other reasons include man-animal conflict.

New forest reserves

Delivering the keynote address at the meet, she spoke about the establishment of new forest reserves to ensure a safe habitat for tigers. “We are in the process of establishing more tiger reserves. Based on 2010 assessment, a new tiger reserve — the Kawal Tiger Reserve in Andhra Pradesh — has been constituted. In-principle approval has been accorded for declaring the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu as a tiger reserve,” she said.

The government had launched the fourth phase of ‘Reserve Level Monitoring' to study the big cats' population and habitat on an annual basis. Almost one per cent of country's geographical area was conserved for tigers as their core/critical habitat.

“India's commitment for saving the tiger is well-known. Wild tigers thrive in 17 of our States. We have the maximum number of tigers. ‘Project Tiger' was launched in 1973 with nine tiger reserves. Today, the coverage has increased to 41 reserves spread over all the 17 States,” she said.

“The wild tiger continues to remain endangered the world over. Threats to the wild tiger and its habitat are due to several factors like poaching, illegal trade catering to a demand for the body parts and derivatives of the tiger, loss of habitat due to extractive industries, infrastructure and revenge killings,” she said.

Adaptive management

Ms. Natarajan favoured adaptive management to tackle country- and area-specific issues related to tiger conservation.

Last year, the government increased its allocation up to Rs. 1,216.86 crore, especially to support the States for securing inviolate space for tigers, she said.

The tiger reserves had been directed to raise a Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF); several new technologies were being used to safeguard the animal.

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