Friday, January 7, 2011

National Tiger Conservation Authority

National Tiger Conservation Authority

The National Tiger Conservation Authority was established in December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force constituted by the Prime Minister of India for reorganized management of Project Tiger and the many Tiger Reserves in India.

Tiger conservation

In June 2007, a detailed survey by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which used accurate camera traps for counting tigers rather than the more traditional method of counting footprints (pugmarks), reported that previous estimates of tiger numbers in India may be hugely optimistic. The landmark report, Status of the Tigers, Co-predators, and Prey in India, published by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, estimates only 1411 adult tigers in existence in India (plus uncensused tigers in the Sundarbans)

For example, in the 16 reserves of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh there may be only 490 tigers – a 60% reduction from the 1,233 tigers previously estimated for these areas in 2002. Indeed, the same 2002 survey had claimed that in total, India had 3,500 tigers, whilst the new survey claims that just 1,400 remain.

Although India does have good laws governing tiger conservation, there is frustration amongst those working in tiger conservation that these laws are not being adequately implemented. However, initiatives such as Born Free’s community and education work in India are getting good results.

Translocating villagers out of tiger reserves can be effective too, if sensitively done. The villagers get access to schools and health care and can farm without risk of attack, the tigers’ prey flourishes in the absence of disturbance, and poachers’ activities are harder to disguise. In China, the domestic trade in tiger body parts was banned 14 years ago. However, there are at least 5,000 tigers in tiny cages in China, reportedly just for display.

Nevertheless, farmers seem quite open about the fact that tigers are killed so their body parts can be used for Traditional Medicine. At the CITES¹ conference in June, there was a proposal from China to amend the Convention text governing the trade in tiger parts. This would have effectively given China the go-ahead to trade in ‘parts and derivatives’ from captive bred tigers. Thankfully this proposal was rejected by the CITES Parties, and instead a landmark decision taken, which states that ‘tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives’. Will this decision see the end of tiger farming in China? Only time will tell.

The most recent audit of wild tigers by the Authority (in early 2008) has estimated the number at 1411 wild tigers - 1165 - 1657 allowing for statistical error - a drop of 60% in the past decade

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