Excellent news on Global Tiger Day: the latest national tiger census says India has 2,967┬átigers – double that counted by the first national census conducted in 2008 with a new scientific methodology created by the Wildlife institute of India.

Before that, a completely unscientific pugmark count method was employed and the figures were regularly fudged. At the first scientific national census in 2006, alarm bells were ringing as tiger numbers were at 1,411, the lowest experts said it had been in decades. Two of India’s big project tiger parks, Sariska and Panna, had lost all their tigers and poaching and habitat loss was a problem. Since then, Panna has bounced back with over 30 tigers while Sariska has some now too.

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Tigers are the world’s largest feline predators and have lost 96% of their home range in the last 100 years.

As India is the largest range state for the tiger today, an increase in its numbers is a huge and positive step for the world. This also puts India on a positive track for 2022, the Year of the Tiger, by when the 13 tiger countries have promised to double their tiger numbers. This promise was made in 2010 under the Global Tiger Recovery Program. While 2022 might not see global tiger numbers doubled, tiger numbers in India, Nepal and Bangladesh have increased.

The national census covered an area of nearly 4 lakh square km across the country. Of this, nearly 1.3 lakh square km, was covered by camera traps. To date, 2,500 individual tigers have been camera-trapped; the rest are estimated through habitat analysis, prey availability, direct sightings and indirect sightings.