Consider these facts :
1. Emperors Akbar & Jahangir used to hunt tigers in and around Delhi and Agra
2. Jhalana in the outskirts of Jaipur has a lot of leopards
3. We have heard of leopard attacks near Thane ( Mumbai ) and Whitefield ( Bangalore ) very recently
This might give us a sense of how much we have pushed back wildlife. Less than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild, down from 100,000 a hundred years ago. As per the latest census of 2018 India has 2967 tigers. This is a welcome growth from a low of 1411 in 2006 but there are miles to go.
Challenges and hopes for tigers
Tigers suffer constant threat of poaching due to their being a status symbol in certain cultures. Their habitats have been destroyed or disconnected, and their natural prey has dwindled. As natural prey dwindled and tigers consumed more domestic animals, retaliation by farmers increased. Removal of habitat due to human civilization also increases the likelihood of tiger and human conflict. Tigers probably have the hardest in places like Sundarbans with tricky terrain and end up being fish eaters.
Collateral benefits with tigers
The presence and promise of tigers motivate governments to help protect Asia’s forests. Forest trees and other plants soak up carbon dioxide. Safeguarding tiger landscapes could protect the last remaining forests critical for this carbon storage, helping mitigate climate change. For example, forests protected for Amur tigers in Russia’s far east can absorb 130,000 tons of carbon per year—the equivalent of more than 25,000 cars on the road.
Hundreds of millions of people depend on water from places where tigers roam. Tiger landscapes overlap nine major watersheds that provide water for as many as 830 million people in Asia, including in urban areas in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Water is critical to everything from agriculture and energy generation to industry and home use. In fact, protected forests generate cleaner water and reduce the amount of sediment reaching rivers, streams, and reservoirs. Protecting tigers imply vital fresh water sources.
Tiger habitats are home to far more animals than just the iconic big cat. More than 30% of Asian elephant populations live within tiger landscapes, including India and large parts of south east Asia. Where tigers thrive, so do other diverse plants and animals.
Few well known tigers in India today.
Maya – The Enchantress – Tadoba
Maya is probably the prettiest and most ‘social’ tiger in India and behaves contrary to tiger nature and appears to be very comfortable being photographed. Once she even nudged her grown up cub to come out of the bushes.
Matkasura – The Alpha Male – Tadoba
Maya had multiple suitors at one point of time and just like the princesses of the past, Maya chose Matkasur but not before a series of dramatic events that unfolded on the terrains of Tadoba in 2016.
Noor – The Queen of Ranthambhore
Noor, the female celebrity tiger, has captivated the attention of a lot of visitors to Ranthambore. This amazing tigress is famous for her beauty and wavy pattern on her body. The name “Noor”, which means glow, was given to her as her wavy patterns brought a sparkle like attractions to the visitors. Here are pics of her cubs, too.
Neither the vegetation nor the customary animals will eventually survive without the tiger. The tiger is at the top of the food chain in all the ecosystems that it lives in. It keeps populations of its prey species in check. Else these species would grow excessively ravaging their food source – vegetation.