Thursday, January 12, 2012

tiger habitat

Tigers Near Extinction

Wildlife Conservation: Wildlife needs protection because of ecological, cultural, economic and legal factors. Wildlife conservation has correlation with hydrological cycle, soil productivity, food and fodder. Wildlife- particularly endangered species need protection and management. Global Bio diversity is at risk, due to increased global demand for wildlife and its products. The changing market dynamics and the lifestyles demand more from the wilderness. The wildlife crimes are assuming organized status and the existing regulatory regimes are inadequate.

There are many species in the earth facing endangerment, but Tiger is one of the Flagship Species going to be wiped off from its wilderness, if an eleventh hour efforts are not taken to arrest the factors leading to extinction. Hence the attention of the International Community is an urgent necessity. In the past century, populations of wild tigers have plummeted from 100,000 to 3500 globally..Tigers in India are in deep trouble, a little over 1400 tigers left in the wild, which is believed to have 40,000 during the last century. Threats of extinction of this species are by poaching, illegal trade, massive habitat fragmentation and destruction, loss of prey, poaching and illegal trade. At present only 13 countries have the tiger population of about 3200 in the wild and estimated that India homes about 60% of this.
Chinese oriental medicine: The illegal trade in tiger bones accelerated in 1980's. Tiger populations in China had been decimated by the demand from traditional oriental medicine manufacturers. China remains a major consumer of tiger and other Asian big cat products for manufacturing these medicines. Tiger skins are sought for home dcor, taxidermy and bribery. Bone is widely used in traditional Chinese medicines and treatments. China's ever-growing demand for tiger parts to use in libido-enhancing and aphrodisiacal drugs & profit from the sales of tiger-bone wine and skins still remains the major cause of depletion of this most charismatic cat from the wilderness. Chinese government has banned tiger trade in 1993, removed tiger bone as ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, but theblack markets for tiger parts are still active. This is evident from the findings of EIA (Environmental Investigating Agency) thatabout 4,000 tigers bred in captivity in China (as on Sept 19th 2009). Allegations are that large amounts of money are involved in the trade, which is controlled by organized criminal networks, which cannot be still contained by the authorities. During an under cover operation investigation in July and August this year, EIA (Environmental Investigating Agency ) was offered 4 full tiger skins, 12 leopard skins, 11 snow leopard skins and 2 clouded leopard skins.
Tigers in India are in deep trouble: The2007 National census figure projected a tiger population of 1411 only in India. Pugmark counting was the method used for tiger census. Allegations were raised by prominent NGOs and Environmentalists on the method in which the numbers have been arrived. An example for this is the Sunderbans National Park in West Bengal of India. In January 2008 the census figures arrived by the Forest Officials through their traditional methods figure of 250 in the Tiger Reserve. Allegations were raised by NGOs and Environmentalists that this was a manipulated figure. On a recount it has been found that only 10 tiger were there in the Sunderbans. The Central Minister for Forests and Environment were to admit this and announced that more scientific census will be conducted by 2010. Either the officials were manipulating the actual number purposely or there was irresponsibility to manage the tiger reserves.
Project Tiger: India's Flagship species conservation programmes started in 1973 to conserve tigers. Crore of Rupees were spent on Project Tiger and claims to have implemented many programmes to conserve the tiger in the wild. Ironically after 37 years of conservation the number of tigers from 1997 census figure of 3508, reduced to 2007 census figure of 1411. Remember this number 1411 is also not correct, reading along with figures of Sunderbans census. Some of the Tiger Reserves like Sariska of Rajasthan and Panna of Madhya Pradesh do not have a single Tiger. Major failure is that the Tiger Conservation programmes did not benefit all the portions of Reserve Forests which are habitats of tiger. In India Protected Area Management is given much more importance than the other Reserve Forest areas. But there are good populations of Tiger distribution out side Protected Areas, which were not cared and were target for easy hunt. Very interestingly these Protected Areas were mostly tourism potential areas selected in random, for the various advantages of the bureaucracy. The real protection problems faced by Protected Areas and other Tiger habitats of less protected Reserve Forest areas are not addressed. The involvements of senior managers are very poor that the protection is considered to be whole responsibility of the Front Line Staff. The numbers of highly paid Senior Forest Officers were increased to 50 times or more after implementation of Project Tiger with a poor strength of Front Line Staff. No contribution at all for improvising the protection of natural habitats from the higher cadre. Only very few of them show genuine interest in protection wildlife. No steps have been taken to evaluate the reasons for failure of the expensive programmes at any level. The 'Project Tiger' is an utter failure that it has failed to address the major problems of threat such as poaching, illegal trade, massive habitat fragmentation and destruction, loss of prey, poaching and illegal trade.
Wildlife crime investigation: Although the international NGOs and enforcements of the European countries combine in conducting raids, this not much done in the local level to arrest the wildlife crimes. Wildlife crimes are assuming an organized way that the primary enforcement department (Forests and wildlife department) is not all equipped to face the new situation. Wildlife Crime Investigation is in nascent stage in the Forest Departments of the States. Many of the Forest Managers are afraid to openly discuss the issue of wildlife crimes. The drastic deduction of Tiger population is not identified as a crisis that has to be tackled on war-foot pace. Tendency is to pose that 'everything is fine' and no protection problems exist in my state/ region. The front line staff identifying the crimes will have the burden of investigation and to answer the Government loss. This may even result in not getting their retirement benefits in time. In many ways they are handicapped to prove the crime before court of law. Wildlife crime investigations are of poor quality and no superior control in crime investigations. The forensic evidence collection and investigation methods are in a primitive stage that less than 1% of the cases are convicted. Result is every body seeks the technique of 'keep things in dark'. This helps the wildlife criminals to large extent.
Global Tiger Forum: GTF is the inter-governmental body of countries that still have wild tigers. This Forum is for facilitating, coordinating and strengthening these Governments' commitments to conserve the Tiger and to develop the strength of Tiger population in the wild. To support wild tiger populations this Forum has formally adopted the Global Tiger Recovery Program, aiming to double the wild tiger population by 2022. 2010 is the year of 'Tiger' as per Chinese astrology and 2022 is the next 'Tiger' year when the Tiger population is proposed to be doubled. They have met at Saint Petersburg during November 2010 to discuss on this Program and requested "financial and technical support of the international community" to save wild tigers. The 13 tiger range states' national plans appealed $356 million for next five years from the International Community for implementing this program. To the wildlife enthusiasts, program itself seems to be hypocrite. The habitat and habit interaction of the Tiger with respect to reproduction in wild conditions have to be considered. If the Tiger Forum is serious in its conservation program, the first step to be taken up is proper identification of field level problems which has depleted the Tiger from the Reserve Forests. It was not at all a question of funding. The best example is Sariska Tiger Reserve of Rajasthan.
What happened in Sariska and Panna Tiger Reserves: The protection system was completely collapsed and poachers were busy doing their job. Very responsible senior managers of Forests have misreported record of tiger numbers, the intention of manipulation from senior managers have not been evaluated by the 'Project Tiger Conservation Program'. No lessons were studied from the failure, in the light of which no protection/management strategies were evolved to protect this mist charismatic wildlife. Sariska has spent more money per tiger and per sq km than other Reserves. It has more personnel per sq km and more protection camps per sq km, than most Reserves. Why not have more guns, and more money? Is that a solution?
Tiger Reproduction: Tigers are fiercely territorial and have and mark large home ranges. Scent marks and scratch marks allow tigers to track other tigers in the area. The mating season is mostly from around November to April, in tropical climates, and during the winter months in temperate regions. After a gestation of 100 to 112 days, 2 to 3 cubs are born. The cubs are blind and helpless and have about 1 kg each. Unfortunately one cub frequently dies at birth. The tiger cub will make its first kill around 18 months of age and will leave its mother at about 2.5 years. The time between births is usually 20 - 30 months, and even shorter if cubs are lost soon after birth Research has shown that there is a dominant cub in each liter. It is usually a male but that isn't always the case. The males often try to kill these young cubs if they come into contact with them. This is because the female will then be able to mate again with him. They may be killed by not getting enough food from their mother, or become prey for other types of animals out there in the wild. The mortality rate for young tigers is extremely high. Less than half of them will survive the fist two years of life.
Monitoring and Evaluation: Strict monitoring and evaluation of the programmes implemented and the proposals for doubling the population have to be closely monitored by the International community. Blaming each other is not the positive approach

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