One day I was discussing the importance of project tiger with a friend of mine.
I told my friend that according to the Saint Petersburg Declaration 2010, the 13 participating member countries committed to increase the number of tigers by two times by the year 2022.
But according to the WWF report, only 5 of them have done better in the direction of achieving the target so far. Though India has achieved the target by doubling the number of tigers even four years ahead i.e. in 2018.
“India is home to 51 tiger reserves spread across 18 states. The last tiger census of 2018 showed a rise in the tiger population. India achieved the target of doubling the tiger population 4 years ahead of schedule of the St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation,”Prime Minister of India tweeted.
What is the Importance of Project Tiger:
My friend asked curiously why so much emphasis is being laid on the project tiger by these countries.
While most of them are facing many challenges like poverty, health, and illiteracy, etc. So what is the need to make tiger conservation one of the primary goals by spending huge amounts on tiger projects?
My friend’s question was the same which often comes to the mind of many other people too.
I told my friend that tiger conservation is directly related to the conservation of the environment. We know that the environment and climate change are among the top priorities for the present world.
To explain the matter in detail I told him there has been a sudden decrease in the number of birds in the last few years. Earlier birds were very much visible around our houses but now they have almost disappeared.
Why did this happen? The most common answer is pollution. And the cause of pollution is our haphazard development and our lifestyle.
Birds can still come around your home if you provide them with a clean environment and ample greenery in and around your home.
If we want a pure environment, then it is very necessary to have a sufficient amount of greenery in every house, in every society, and in the country.
At least one-third of the total land of each country should be green areas.
In fact, tiger projects are the efforts made by the governments for the conservation of green regions.
In the present article, we will try to understand what is the importance of tiger projects in the context of environmental protection.
We’ll also learn how tiger projects protect the environment, biodiversity, endangered species, and watersheds.
For this article, we have taken some valuable information and data, with courtesy, from the WWF Report on Tiger Conservation (Tx2) 2017 presented by Sue Stolton and Nigel Dudley. For this, we are thankful to them.
WWF is one of the leading organizations working for wildlife.
History of the Tiger:
The oldest tiger fossils have been found from northern China and Java, which is about two million years old. This proves that the history of the tiger is about 2 million years old. The tiger must have evolved before the lion, jaguar, and leopard.
Challenges before tiger:
The tiger is a symbol of grandeur and power. It has always been the center of attraction for human beings. In many societies of the world, the tiger also has cultural significance.
Till a few years ago tigers were most common across Asia. They were spread from the far east Korean Peninsula to far west Turkey. But due to the expansion of agricultural land and urbanization on a large scale, the tiger has suffered heavy losses. Up to 95% of his habitats have been destroyed. Now even the 5% of the habitats that are left are also in danger.
According to the experts’ predictions, about half (43%) of his habitats will soon be lost. Even in countries like India that have made a significant investment in the conservation of tigers, tiger habitats are losing.
This is a matter of great concern. There is an urgent need to pay attention to the protection of tigers.
St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation
On 23 November 2010, by the Saint Petersburg Declaration, 13 countries of the Asiatic region having tiger homes had decided to double the number of tigers by the year 2022. It is known as the TX2 goal.
These countries are following:
- Lao PDR
In the Petersburg declaration 2010, it has been recognized that during the last century the number of tigers has plummeted from 100,000 to below 3500, which is continuing to fall.
Three of the tiger species have already disappeared, the remaining are also under threat.
Poaching, illegal wildlife trade, and human-tiger conflict are considered to be the main causes behind the loss of tigers and their habitats.
The declaration adopted the National Tiger Recovery Priorities (NTRPs) and Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) for the conservation of tigers and their habitats.
Why is it important to save the tiger?
We need to save the tiger because of the following reasons:
- To save biodiversity
- To protect endangered species
- To reduce pollution
- To safeguard water sources
- To grow economy
Tiger saves biodiversity:
Tiger’s habitats are found in various regions ranging from grasslands, mangrove swamps, evergreen forests to the snowy mountains of the Himalayas. They live in tropical and subtropical regions of India and Southeast Asia and boreal forests of Russia to the Himalayas.
According to estimates, the total tiger range in the world is spread over 70 million hectares of land. Out of this, there are four places that are the richest places in the world from the point of view of biodiversity which can also be called biodiversity hotspots. These are the sites:
Eastern Himalayas, Indo-Burma, Western Ghats, and Sundaland.
According to the WWF report, If tiger range locations are compared with other Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) found in the world, the fact that tiger ranges stand with high biological value is confirmed. Till now, 332 KBAs have been identified within the existing tiger range, covering 22 million hectares of tiger landscapes.
In the future, more KBAs may be identified within the tiger range. Not only this, UNESCO has also included the tiger range sites in its list of natural World Heritage sites. This underlines the biological value of the tiger range. Ten World Heritage sites, having over 5 million hectares, have approx 30% of the wild tiger population across the world.
Various more sites like Ujung Kulon in Indonesia and Altai Mountains in Russia.
The above report proves that there is a positive connection between tigers and biodiversity.
Actually, the tiger is the top carnivore. It hunts animals for food. Usually, a tiger requires hunting every five days. Thus a tiger needs about 350 prey in a year.
Various animals that become prey to tigers like to live in dense and healthy forests where rivers, ponds, trees, bushes, etc are available.
These dense forests are full of different types of trees, vegetation, and water sources that provide shelter to various animals, birds, reptiles, insects, etc.
This is the reason why the biological value of the tiger range is high. And, these areas are very rich from the point of view of biodiversity.
Tiger protects protect endangered species:
The tiger ranges provide protection to various species that are under threat and need conservation.
In fact, tiger reserves are not only the habitat of tigers, but they are also the shelter for thousands of species of different fauna. Many species of such fauna are in danger and need conservation, and also get protection here.
According to the WWF report, tiger habitats and protected areas provide harbor to many other flagship species that need conservation. These are specified as follows:
About over 30 percent of the Asian elephant population overlap with the tiger ranges including,
- Bangladesh in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
- Southern Bhutan
- India, particularly in the southwest
- Indonesia, on the island of Sumatra
- Peninsular Malaysia
- Nepal, in the lowland Teri
Indian rhinoceros is under extreme threat. According to estimates, more than three-fourths of the population of these rhinos is confined to some tiger-protected areas of Nepal and India. About two-thirds of their total population in the world lives in the Kaziranga National Park in the Brahmaputra valley, Assam, in India which is also a tiger-protected region.
This species of rhinoceros is probably the most threatened. It is currently confined to only three protected tiger ranges in Sumatra.
Other flagship species:
Apart from the above-mentioned major species, many other species which are critically threatened like brown bears, snow leopards, clouded leopards, etc also get conservation in tiger ranges.
Thus we find that the investment in tiger ranges not only helps the conservation of tigers but also provides harbor to many threatened species as well.
Tiger Projects play a significant role in mitigating climate change:
Healthy forests are the habitat of tigers. These forests play an important role in absorbing carbon. Unfortunately, there are many challenges facing the forests. For example, illegal cutting of trees is done to get timber. If there is coal or minerals under the forest land, the forests are destroyed to obtain them by mining. Forests are destroyed to bring the forest land for cultivation or industrial use.
Most experts on carbon emissions and climate change believe that we should pay attention to the dangers posed by deforestation. Mitigating the threat of climate change requires not only the conservation of forests but also species-rich habitats. We know that tigers protect other species. So as an umbrella species, tigers provide an opportunity to conserve forests that act as high-value carbon absorbers.
According to the WWF report, forest protection prevents emissions of an estimated 130,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Thus we find that the conservation of forests for tiger habitats helps to protect the environment and mitigate climate change.
Tiger projects safeguard the water sources:
Many countries in Asia are facing water scarcity. Due to the increasing population, the pressure on agriculture is increasing. We know that about 70 percent of the total water consumption is spent on agriculture alone. Therefore, there is a severe shortage of water in many places. Sometimes it also becomes a cause of tension between different governments.
It is a good thing that 9 important watersheds of the world-class fall in tiger conservation landscapes. These watersheds cover about 5 million square kilometers. They serve about 830 million people as a source of water for agriculture, electricity generation, industrial and domestic use.
For example, the Ramganga River watershed largely inside the Corbett National Park in India, which is a world-famous tiger reserve, alone provides drinking water to New Delhi, the capital of India. Besides this, it plays an important role in providing water for irrigation and the generation of electricity.
For example, let us tell you about some of the major watersheds found in Asian countries. These watersheds lie in various tiger ranges and serve the people of their country as a major water source.
The Central Forest Spine (CFS) of Peninsular Malaysia is an important landscape consisting of four main forest complexes of Malaysia. According to the WWF report, it provides water supply to about 90 percent of the country’s population.
The Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex is a watershed of great importance in Thailand. It feeds the country’s five major rivers. These are Nakhon Nayok River, Prachin Buri River, Mun River, Muskil Lek River, and Lamta Khong River.
India is a large country with a population of 1.35 billion. More than 100 million people living in its 9 different states get water from the Western Ghats, which contain 6 tiger reserves.
As we have mentioned above, in northern India, the Jim Corbett National Park, in which a large part of the Ramganga river falls, alone provides drinking water to the city of New Delhi.
From the above, we find that the tiger reserves not only conserve the tigers but also protect the water sources also.
These water sources meet our drinking water needs, as well as help us with irrigation for agriculture, and energy production, etc.
Tiger regions help grow economy:
Tiger regions play an important role in providing livelihood to people.
The desire to see the tiger draws the tourists to the tiger reserves. In the last few years, sanctuaries have emerged as a major center of tourism. This provides employment to the people living near the sanctuaries.
Apart from this, many valuable things are obtained from the forests protected for tiger habitats, which provide employment to the people and become the reason for the economic progress of the country.
Some major articles we get from forests are as under:
- Food plants
- Medicinal herbs
- Paper and pulp
- Gums and resin
Various bioproducts obtained from tiger landscapes contribute billions of dollars to the global economy.
It is clear that forests protected for tiger habitats provide a significant contribution to the progress of the economy.
Tiger is a part of our culture. He is the symbol of bravery. He provides protection to the various species living in forests. He also saves forests which play the most important role in maintaining the eco-balance. Not only do they also provide valuable bioproducts as well as opportunities for tourism. Thus tiger regions give important contributions to the progress of the economy.
In fact, by saving tigers we are going to save the environment for our coming generations.
It is also necessary to understand here that the tiger does not take anything from us, but gives us a lot.
So, save tiger and save nature.