NEW DELHI: The success of project tiger shows that India is taking several steps to conserve the wildlife population as according to the most recent 2018-19 survey, there were 2,997 tigers in the country. Currently, World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF India) is addressing species conservation through field-level activities in different landscapes as well as through direct interventions aimed at conserving a particular species.These programs focus on threats to wildlife and the issues surrounding these threats. Prominent among these are poaching, human-wildlife conflict, trade in wildlife parts, habitat destruction and legal support. The project activities are carried out at the field as well as policy levels.
On earlier occasions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stated: "I salute all those working towards wildlife protection. Be it lions, tigers and leopards, India is seeing a steady rise in the population of various animals." "We should do everything possible to ensure the protection of our forests and safe habitats for animals," he had said.
Wildlife species conservation at WWF-India began with the initiation of the Tiger Conservation Programme (TCP) in the early 1970s. In the year 2000, the programme diversified into several conservation projects targeting tigers, Asian elephants and rhino, and in 2005, added Nilgiri tahr, red panda and snow leopard to the list. Earlier, ex-Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar had said, "India has thriving wildlife and biodiversity. 70 per cent of Global Tiger population, 70 per cent of Asiatic Lions, 60 per cent of Leopard population are here."
Project Tiger in the 1970s and Project Elephant in 1992-both with flagship species-attracted global attention. India then also became a member of all major international conservation treaties related to habitat, species and environment. The tiger survey is usually held once in four years and elephants are counted once in five years. As per the most recent 2018-19 survey, there were 2,997 tigers in India. According to the last count in 2017, there were 29,964 elephants in India. In 2017, the Union Environment Ministry reported that there were 27,312 elephants on average in the country, according to figures collated from 23 states. However, in 2019, it emerged that Kerala may have under-counted almost 2,700 elephants in the latest elephant census and the updated 2017 figures showed 29,964 elephants on average.
The tiger (Panthera tigris) has been a flagship species for biodiversity and wildlife conservation in India since 1972. The tiger being an apex predator is on top of the food chain and helps keeps wild ungulate numbers in check, thus also ensuring a balance of the herbivores and the vegetation. These majestic animals play an integral role as indicators of the health of the ecosystems they thrive in. Notably, on July 29, the world marked Global Tiger Day.