100,000 tigers walked India's wild forests just a century ago and today, we are left with a mere 3200 individuals. Our country, is home to about 70% of the world's Bengal tiger population, where they unfortunately face an uncertain fate. Issues like poaching, habitat loss, human-tiger conflict, illegal trade control amongst others act as a significant threat to tigers. What can secure their future are conservation efforts that have yielded encouraging results; yet there is a need to do far more.
Today, Bengal tigers reside in only 7 per cent of their historic range of habitat - a figure that has drastically dropped by 40% in less than a decade. Encroachment of their habitat is forcing tigers into human settlements, giving rise to 'human-tiger conflict.' Moreover, local hunters and poachers trap tigers in forests, using snares which are capable of entangling big cats, causing painful death. 2014-17 has witnessed 345 tiger mortalities and 92 human casualties due to conflict and poaching.
WTI conducts training and awareness programs within local communities to empower them and devise sustainable solutions to mitigate human-wildlife conflict. We organise frequent anti-snare walks in human settlements near forest reserves. Bandipur Tiger Reserve in southern India has alone accounted for 1161 snares! We also work in association with government bodies to protect corridors, which are direct linkages between forest patches that facilitate gene flow amongst fragmented populations.
Tigers in the wild signify a healthy forest ecosystem. Tigers also act as an umbrella species, thus ensuring sustenance of a wide range of flora and fauna. In this wild endeavour of ours, we seek your support and hope to work towards putting an end to the challenges faced by tigers. With myriad threats looming over tiger populations, the time to act is NOW! As we have embarked on a new year, buzzing with fresh opportunities, let us join hands and save Biodiversity in India.