India’s latest tiger census shows a sharp increase in the number of endangered cats in the wild, raising hopes that conservation efforts are working.
The census carried out in 2014 counted at least 2,226 tigers in forests across the country – around 500 more than were counted four years ago.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar described the figures as a huge success story and said it was the result of sustained conservation efforts in tiger reserves across the country.
Tigers have been threatened by rampant poaching and shrinking habitats from deforestation due to power projects, roads and human settlements.
Mr Javadekar said more than 9,700 cameras were used to count the big cats accurately.
India is estimated to be home to around 70 per cent of the world’s tigers.
Mr Javadekar said: “Never before has such an exercise been taken on such a massive scale where we have unique photographs of 80 per cent of India’s tigers.
“While the tiger population is falling in the world, it is rising in India. This is great news,” he added.
Tiger conservation practices that had proved successful in India could be adopted elsewhere, he suggested.
He also said India was willing to donate tiger cubs to the international community and play a key role in global tiger conservation.
Wildlife campaigners had been expressing concerns over dwindling numbers of tigers for some time. The Times of India says that as recently as 2008, census figures showed a tiger population of just 1,411.
“Seventy per cent of the world’s tigers are now in India. We have the world’s best managed tiger reserves,” Mr Javadekar said.