Tiger Census as Bright Star

 

photo credit: Dr. Eash Hoskote

Tigers and other megafauna felines have frequently held pride of place on this site, beginning long before our company was based in India.

Thank you to NPR for reporting on the good news of this census, although in full disclosure their choice of cover photos is quite disappointing and we are happy to highlight a stunning photo by Dr. Eash Hoskote, one of our regular nature photography contributors instead.

Census Finds Nearly 3,000 Tigers In India

In 2010, India sought to double its tiger population by 2022. But on International Tiger Day, the country announced it met its goal four years earlier than expected.

Nearly 3,000 tigers now reside in India, that’s more than 70% of the world’s tiger population.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the 2018 All India Tiger Estimation count on Monday, attributing the figures to India’s hardworking wildlife officials and advocates.

“Once the people of India decide to do something, there is no force that can prevent them from getting the desired results,” Modi announced at a news conference. “Today we reaffirm our commitment towards protecting tigers.”

He added that India now takes the lead in being the biggest and safest habitat in the world for tigers. The population, now at 2,967, is up from 2,226 since 2014.

“There are several plants and animals out there that need our help,” Modi said. “What is it that we can do? Either through technology or human action to give them … a life so that they can add beauty and diversity to our planet.” Continue reading

Tigers, Tales, Illumination

ImpossibleOwl.jpgBrian Phillips has not featured once in our pages until now, nor has The Ringer. If you read his essay below, featured also in the book to the right, the fit with our platform here is clear. Strange, though; I would not have expected to see it featured on a website that looks to be mostly focused on sports.

But it is a welcome surprise. It serves as another welcome reminder of some of the highlights of our years in India. And it provides a reason to track the author. The blurb the publisher chose to accompany the book (click the image to the right) is telling: “…Dogged, self-aware, and radiating a contagious enthusiasm for his subjects, Phillips is an exhilarating guide to the confusion and wonder of the world today. If John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead was the last great collection of New Journalism from the print era, Impossible Owls is the first of the digital age.”

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Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Man-eaters

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Of the twelve tigers I saw in India, one might have been a ghost; two were in water, eight were on land, and one was sleeping in a tree. One stepped out of high grass, crossed the road in front of me, and disappeared into grass on the other side. One walked along a low ridge on the edge of a different road, oblivious or indifferent to the tourists taking her photograph. One looked out from a cover of branches and red leaves, so perfectly concealed that from thirty feet away he kept stereoscoping in and out of sight. Three were cubs, just four or five months old. Three were juveniles, aged around one year. The rest were fully grown. All were tired, because the days were hot, and because the days were dry they moved and breathed and slept in a film of clay-colored dust. Continue reading

For The Last Tigers, What Is Next?

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A South China tiger, a subspecies that only survives in captivity. Credit Francois Savigny/Minden Pictures

Some of these photos we have featured in earlier stories. That is a testament to the seriousness of the subject. Thanks to Rachel Nuwer for this:

Divide and Preserve: Reclassifying Tigers to Help Save Them From Extinction

Are there many subspecies of tiger, or only two? A correct accounting is the only way to preserve what is left of the animal’s genetic diversity, some scientists say.

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A Sumatran tiger at the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia. Sumatran tigers were the first to evolve from all tigers’ common ancestor. Credit Romeo Gacad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Fewer than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild. New research aims to give conservationists an improved understanding of their genetics in order to help save them.

After years of debate, scientists report in the journal Current Biology that tigers comprise six unique subspecies. One of those subspecies, the South China tiger, survives only in captivity.

“The results presented in this paper are important because they contradict the currently accepted international conservation classifications for tigers,” said Uma Ramakrishnan, a molecular ecologist at the National Center for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India, who was not involved in the study. Continue reading

Big Cat News From India

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A tiger in the Sundarbans National Park, a protected tiger reserve, in the Indian state of West Bengal. SOUMYAJIT NANDY / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Richard Conniff, one of the science writers we most depend on for useful conservation news, shares this interview with one of our heroes from India’s big cat conservation network:

Big Cat Comeback: How India Is Restoring Its Tiger Population

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Ullas Karanth

Ullas Karanth has spent a half-century working to protect India’s endangered tigers. In an interview with Yale e360, he argues that with smart planning and the cooperation of its rural residents, the country could support five times the number of tigers it has now.

Ullas Karanth, a senior scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, is one of the world’s premier tiger experts and a leader in the effort to restore India’s depleted tiger populations. Raised in the South India state of Karnataka, he has spent much of his professional life studying and working to bring back tigers there, starting in Nagarahole National Park in the foothills of the Western Ghats, and then across a 10,000-square-mile region of that mountain range.

Karanth’s emphasis on scientific methods has frequently brought him into conflict with India’s forest bureaucracy, particularly over its insistence on estimating tiger populations based on footprint counts. Karanth instead pioneered the use of camera traps for population estimates based on identification of individual tigers. That method belatedly became the national standard after a 2004 scandal, when Sariska Tiger Reserve, officially estimated to have 26 tigers, turned out to have none. Continue reading

Support Conservation In India!

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A Royal Bengal Tiger at Kaziranga National Park in India in 2014. CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

Some moderately good news from the home front here in India gets us back in the mood to shout out in the interest of conservation-focused tourism:

Number of Tigers in the Wild Is Rising, Wildlife Groups Say

There are now an estimated 3,890 wild tigers, mostly in Asia, up from a worldwide tiger population of 3,200 estimated in 2010, the World Wildlife Fund and Global Tiger Forum announced on Monday. Wild tigers are considered endangered and had seen shrinking numbers because of hunting, poaching and loss of habitat, such as deforestation, particularly in Sumatra, for palm oil, and paper and pulp industries, the groups said. The official count had declined every year since 1900, when tigers numbered an estimated 100,000. Continue reading

Waste Not, Want Not Tiger Habitat

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A tiger wades into the waters of Raj Bagh lake in Ranthambhore tiger in Rajasthan, India. Conservationists warn ‘tiger corridors’ connecting habitats across Asia are crucial for the survival of the species. Photograph: Aditya Singh/Alamy

From today’s Guardian in the Environment section, some welcome news on one of our most posted-on topics:

Forests still large enough to double the world’s tiger population, study finds

Satellite maps show tiger habitat is being lost but still adequate for meeting international goal of doubling tiger numbers by 2022

Forests that harbour tigers are being lost but are still large enough to take double the world’s tiger population in the next six years, according to a study using new satellite mapping technology. Continue reading

On the Tail of the Tiger

A captive tiger at Bannerghatta National Park, Bengaluru, India. PHOTO: Rosanna Abrachan

A captive tiger at Bannerghatta National Park, Bengaluru, India. PHOTO: Rosanna Abrachan

The world has seen the population of individual wild tigers dwindle from 100,000 in 1913 to just about 3,200 now. Classified into six species, a majority of these surviving cats belong to the specie panthera tigris tigris, more popularly known as the Bengal tiger, that are found in India. Here too, their population, estimated to be between 20,000-40,000 at the turn of the 20th century, reduced to fewer than 2,000 by the 1970s, mostly due to hunting and poaching. It has now inched to 2,226, making India home to 70% of the world’s total tiger population.

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Water Play

What a privilege to watch the extremely playful cubs of the Sukhi Patiah Tigress enjoying in the Patiah water body at Bandhavgarh National Park!

We spent around 1 1/2 hrs with these cubs playing in the water. We learn so much about these tigers when we do the sunrise to sunset photo safari in the parks. For example, our understanding has been that tigers are active in the morning and late evenings. But these cats are smart, they become far more active after the regular safari timings. 
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India Tiger Census Shows Promise For The Future

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The Guardian‘s video shorts, covering current news that sometimes calls for moving images, shares this recent surprise finding from India:

India’s 2014 tiger census finds the country is now home to 2,226 tigers, making up 70% of the world’s population. The figure increased by 30% in three years despite threats of poaching and habitat loss. The World Wildlife Foundation say the world has lost 97% of its tiger population in just over a century Continue reading

Kerala’s Tigers, And Protectors

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Tribal conservationist Babu: School dropout launches a website with info on tiger conservation in Parambikulam reserve.

The Hindu carries a story, close to our hearts and activities, about a heroic member of a local indigenous community devoted to conservation for the tiger and all it depends on:

He may be the answer to the debate on tiger versus tribal, where tiger conservation and livelihood of forest-dwelling tribespeople fail to find a common ground. A school dropout from the Sunkam tribal colony inside the Parambikulam tiger reserve, he has designed a website to bring to the outside world the biodiversity of the reserve and highlight its tiger conservation efforts. Continue reading

World Wildlife Week: Spotted and Sambar Deer

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As a part of celebrating World Wildlife Week I will be sharing information about the importance of saving our Natural Heritage, hopefully trying to create awareness among the growing population of nature lovers and wildlife photographers. My first post makes the correlation between a healthy tiger habitat with our own well-being.

Now let me talk about the importance of deer in our forests.

One of the primary reasons why large areas of forest in India no longer have tigers is because local people have hunted and eaten away most of the prey animals. While the direct poaching of tigers is contributing to their rapid decline now, it is the steady erosion of the tiger’s prey base that has resulted in low numbers of tigers to start with.

An adult tiger needs about 3000 kg of food a year. This translates roughly into one deer-sized animal every week.

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World Wildlife Week: Why Save the Tiger?

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As a part of celebrating World Wildlife Week I will be sharing information about the importance of saving our Natural History, hopefully trying to create awareness among the growing nature lovers. Lets start with why we need to save the Tiger.

The tiger is at the top of the food chain. Therefore, the healthy presence of tigers indicates healthy forests. The presence of tigers in a forest has dual benefits, firstly, it keeps the ungulate (hoofed animals like deer and wild boar) population in check and also keeps humans at bay as most people are scared of venturing into a tiger or lion forest. This mostly applies to poor villagers and not poachers and hunting tribes. If there is no apex predator, herbivores wreak havoc and humans enter the forest for farming, logging, and poaching of smaller animals with less fear. The existence of tigers is vital for the survival of forests. But why do we need forests? Think of the forest as a gigantic sponge. A sponge absorbs water and stores it until and unless you squeeze it out.

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20 Years Of Camera Traps In India

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Thanks to the National Geographic Society’s excellent website (membership required) for this story on a topic close to our hearts. Camera traps are the source of some of the best nature photography we have seen, as made clear by these authors:

By Krithi K. Karanth and Arjun Srivathsa

With close to 50 species of wild carnivores, India is a haven for elusive families of cats, dogs, hyaenas, bears, otters, civets and mongooses. The Wildlife Conservation Society-India Program has been camera-trapping critters in India for more than 20 years. Continue reading

Tiger Census In Kerala Is Well Under Way

2,088 field staff taking part in the eight-day exercise in five landscapes

2,088 field staff taking part in the eight-day exercise in five landscapes

Today’s Hindu newspaper reports that:

The eight-day phase-one of the all India tiger estimation 2013-2014 by 2,088 field staff began in the forests of the State on Monday.

The estimation, at the initiative of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), is a countrywide exercise conducted every four years to assess the status of wild tigers, co-predators, prey species, and their habitat. Continue reading

Wildlife Sanctuaries of India–Bandhavgarh National Park

Sita, National Geographic

Sita, National Geographic

If you are really, really desperate to see tigers in their natural habitat, maybe you should try visiting Bandhavgarh National Park in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh since it has the highest concentration of tigers among all the national parks in India! With an area of 105 sq km open to tourists and a buffer zone of 427 sq km, Bandhavgarh National Park is home to almost 50 Bengal tigers.

A female tiger named Sita, who also appeared on the cover of National Geographic and is the most photographed tiger in the world, also lived in Banhavgarh. In fact, most tigers in the reserve today are thought to be descendants of her and a male tiger named Charger. Continue reading

Siberian Tigers Return, Humans Shrug In Ambivalence

Decades of poaching and logging in China and elsewhere have ravaged the Siberian tiger population, with only about 500 left in the wild worldwide. Photograph: Tim Davis/Corbis

Decades of poaching and logging in China and elsewhere have ravaged the Siberian tiger population, with only about 500 left in the wild worldwide. Photograph: Tim Davis/Corbis

In our day to day work, how humans and wild animals interact is often a matter of personal fulfillment, though at times we tend to the challenging aspects as well.  The Guardian‘s coverage of the fate of charismatic mega-felines falls into this latter category with a mixed message of one wild animal’s population rebound and what can only be described as practical human reaction:

…Decades of poaching and logging have ravaged the population of the big cat, also known as Amur tigers– only about 500 still live in the wild worldwide. In 2010, Chinese authorities launched an initiative to boost numbers in the Hunchun National Siberian Tiger Nature Reserve near the country’s border with Russia and North Korea. Continue reading

Cats Caught Candid

Thanks to Green Blog for attention and link to some rather unexpected news, and to Rachel Nuwer for titling her news–“Protected Tigers, Burning Bright”–in a manner we appreciate for its allusion as much as its information:

Tigers have delivered a bit of holiday cheer: populations are on the upswing, it turns out, in some protected areas in India and Thailand. In a field often dominated by news of felled forests and population declines, wildlife conservationists have taken heart from this development, while noting that tigers have a long, long way to go if they are to claw their way off the endangered species list. Continue reading

Tiger Reserves In India Re-Open To Visitors

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While the Periyar Tiger Reserve, which we are closest to and particularly amazed by, was the exception to the rule below, we understood the ban.  Tiger habitat is threatened, and radical action was taken.  The Periyar Tiger Reserve was exempted from the ban for reasons complex and rich enough that we will have to explain on another occasion, but in short there is a history of enlightened leadership of this particular Reserve.  For the moment, we will just relay today’s news, which comes as a relief to all the businesses surrounding all the Tiger Reserves across India, who were severely affected by the ban.   Continue reading

August 22, A Big Day For Tigers

Click the headline above to go to the story, in advance of tomorrow’s ruling in India about a controversial ban.  These issues are at the core of the entrepreneurial conservation concept:

“If the ban on tourism continues, it will be the end of the tiger in India,” he said. “We’re the ones who put energy into tracking them. We deter poachers. Tourists are only allowed in the park for six hours every day, but we guides take it in turns to patrol the park from sunrise to sunset. Voluntarily.” Continue reading

Many Stripes. Many Tales. Few Tigers.

When I decided to come to Kerala this summer for my internship, I got most excited not entirely about my work, but really about seeing a tiger. I can’t even remember the last time I went to a zoo, but I know deep in my closet I have a dusty photo of me and a tamed tiger from Thailand. At this time, seeing a wild tiger was actually more of a WILD idea. Since I’m working next to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, a home to approximately 40 tigers and many other animals, I’m practically neighbors with them and awaiting a miraculous moment to see a tiger before my trip to Delhi.

As a Korean descendent, I must introduce you all to some Korean culture and explain why I’m writing a blog post that is dedicated just to tigers. I’m sure a lot of my Korean folks will agree that tigers and Koreans go way back. My relationship with tigers started when I was 3 years old when my grandmother told me a story about a tiger that smoked using bamboo pipes.  My reaction was: “Really? Tigers smoke, too?”

Source & Credit: Picture of a Tiger at SamChunSa (삼천사) at BookHanSan (북한산)

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