For sustenance, a tiger requires one large prey animal a week, which means 50 such animals a year. A viable population of 100 tigers, which is about the population in Kanha, would consume about 5,000 prey animals a year. To sustain this, 50,000 prey animals (with an annual removal of 10%) are required in an area of approximately 2,000 sq km. Kanha is one of the few places in India that provides this.

Since the launch of Project Tiger in 1973, the Government of India has spent over US$ 400 million on tiger conservation efforts. With nearly 70% of the world’s wild tiger population, it is India that represents the best chance of securing a future for this iconic species. India now has 48 tiger reserves covering an area of nearly 70,000 sq km, including 39,026 of core area. The global population is about 3,200 tigers, found in 13 countries in Asia. There are possibly only 1,000 breeding females left in the wild.

The tragedy for India’s tiger conservation efforts is the growing lack of political will to stop the wanton destruction of tiger habitat, and to curb tiger poaching and the illegal trafficking of tiger parts. Apart from the obvious assets that this species represents, the tiger is the protector of forests that are the source of 300 rivers in India and of all the animals and vegetation that live in its domain; a healthy tiger population means a healthy environment. But the fact remains that unless saving the tiger becomes a social and political priority, their future looks bleak.

An equally important requirement is to curb the demand, which comes largely from markets in China, for tiger parts. Unless this demand is drastically curtailed it is going to be impossible to curb the widespread poaching of tigers. As things stand, the biggest single contribution to securing a future for wild tigers on this planet would be if China made a commitment to end ALL trade in ALL tiger parts and products, from ALL sources, wild and captive. Every one of us needs to send a strong and encouraging message to China to put such a ban in place. Only then will be there be a ray of light at the end of the tunnel for this glorious animal.
Belinda Wright, 2015

“I regard tigers as God’s cymbals when they roared and God’s paintbrush when they didn’t.”
Edward Hoagland, 1997
In “India! The Golden Jubilee”
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