News: From next year onwards, tigers, elephants, and leopards will be counted in a comprehensive manner. Since the area of the habitat of both the elephants and tigers is 90 percent similar, a common survey will save costs. Read the news here.
Lets Understand From UPSC Perspective:
The Tiger Census is held every 4 years whereas the Elephant census is held every 5 years. The last tiger census was held in 2018-19 and the elephant census in 2017. The Union Environment Minister, Bhupender Yadav said that a comprehensive, and scientific survey method needs to be adopted for accurate estimation of animal numbers.
The Wildlife Institute Of India (WII), since 2006 uses a standardized method to calculate the number of tigers in the states. The estimation is done using sightings in camera traps and other indirect methods. Whereas, while counting the number of elephants, the WII has to rely solely on the numbers given by the states, which do not have a standardized method of elephant estimation.
The new method involves scientific techniques like analyzing the DNA samples of dung/ excreta and estimate the birth rate and population trends amongst elephants. Also, a common survey seems right as over 90 percent of the area of the habitat of both the animals overlap. Thus a common survey will be cost-saving and efficient.
According to a recent census, there were 2,997 tigers (2018-19) and 29,964 elephants (2017) in India. Around 60 percent of the total number of elephants are found in India. Also, over 60 percent of the global tiger population is found in India. Madhya Pradesh is the highest in the country with 526 tigers. Globally Tigers are given the Endangered Status as listed in the IUCN Red List. But Malayan and Sumatran species are listed as Critically Endangered. The Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered. Read more about IUCN and its 9 categories here.
For current changes and listing of animals in IUCN Red list. Watch the video here:
About Project Tiger:
It is a Tiger Conservation program to protect the falling population of Bengal Tigers in India. It was launched in 1973. The main aim of the program was to protect the tiger population, their natural habitat, which in turn would protect the diversity of the entire ecosystem. Tiger is a keystone species and preserving and conserving such keystone species indirectly helps in conserving the whole ecosystem and the entire food chain.
This Project Tiger was started from the Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand. Initially, there were only 9 tiger reserves in India, and today (2021) there are around 52 such Tiger reserves.
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA):
NTCA was established in 2005 on the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force. It is a Statutory body i.e created by an act of the Parliament. It functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. The Official website of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) talks about compliance building and giving statutory authority to Project Tiger; Encouraging accountability of the Center-State in the management of Tiger Reserves, and Addressing the livelihood interests of local people surrounding Tiger Reserves. Read more here.
Project Elephant was launched in 1992 by the Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests. It is a Centrally Sponsored scheme i.e the project is launched by the States and not the Centre directly. Project Elephant was started to fulfill the following objectives:
- To protect elephants, their habitat and corridors.
- To address issues of man-animal conflict.
- Welfare of captive elephants
- to promote not to harm elephants for their teeth.
The project provided financial and technical support to the states for the management of wildlife and their habitat, especially Asian Elephants. The aim was to ensure the long-term survival of elephants in their existing natural habitat and curb man-animal conflict.
Elephants are considered keystone species. They help in making a way in the forest areas, disburse seeds from trees and shrubs, and clear weeds. Moreover, elephants have a positive influence on the growth of various plant and animal species too.
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