International Tiger Day 2020: History, significance and the India story

Global Tiger Day or International Tiger Day is observed on 29th July every year to raise awareness about the declining population of the wild cats and making efforts to conserve them. The goal of the day is to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers and to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues.

This year marks the 10th International Tiger Day. On International Tiger Day, several countries discuss issues related to tiger conservation and also try to amass funds for wildlife preservation. Moreover, many celebrities also pitch in for International Tiger Day and try to spread awareness about the conditions of tigers using their massive social media presence.

History of International Tiger Day:

The Global Tiger Day came into being during the signing of Saint Petersburg declaration by 13 tiger range countries in 2010 in Russia. The governments of these tiger range countries had resolved to encourage the conservation, protecting natural habitats and double the number of tigers by 2022. Poaching and illegal trade of tiger body parts like bone, skin have posed the biggest threat to wild tigers. The demand for tiger body parts has increased the poaching and trafficking of wild cats.

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Significance of International Tiger Day:

According to the WWF experts Darren Grover, the world had lost around 97 per cent of wild tigers in the last 100 years. Currently, only 3,000 tigers are left alive compared to around 100,000 Tiger a century ago. Many international organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), are also involved in the conservation of the wild tigers.

Why are tigers important?

Since the tiger is an “umbrella species”, its conservation enables the conservation of their entire ecosystems. Several studies have shown that Tiger reserves harbour new species, which are found practically every year. Tiger reserves have also improved the water regimes in regions where they are located, improving groundwater tables and other water bodies, thus contributing favourably to the climate.

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How many tigers are left in the world?

Around 3,900 tigers remain in the wild across the globe, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Since the beginning of the 20th century, over 95% of the world’s tiger population is lost. A WWF report says that about a 100 years ago, there may have been over 100,000 tigers that roam in the planet.

The India success story:

India’s tiger population currently stands at 2,967 which is 70 percent of the global tiger population. Till 2014, the tiger population in India was around 1,600. The increase in the tiger population in India can be attributed to the launch of the tiger conservation programme-Project Tiger-in 1973.

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar released the Tiger Census report. The country has 70% of the world’s tiger population. There are ready to work with all the 13 tiger range countries in their actual management of tiger reserves.” There were nine tiger reserves when Project Tiger started in 1973. Now, India has 50 tiger reserves.

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