PM Modi urges foreign countries to help protect wildlife as India tiger numbers up to 3,167

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Apr 09, 2023 | 7:28 PM Updated Apr 09, 2023 | 7:29 PM

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted: “India is a country where protecting nature is a part of culture. We do not believe in conflicts between ecology and economy, but give importance to coexistence between the two.”

The prime minister was addressing a gathering including foreign delegates at the Karnataka State Open University in Mysuru on Sunday, 9 April, after inaugurating the commemoration of 50 years of Project Tiger.

He also launched the International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) and released the booklet Amrit Kaal Ka Tiger Vision, presenting the vision for tiger conservation in the next 25 years.

Also read: Tiger that killed 2 persons in Kodagu captured by forest officials

3,167 tigers, says latest census

The prime minister released the latest tiger census data, which showed that India’s tiger population rose by 200 in the past four years to reach 3,167 in 2022.

The tiger population was 1,411 in 2006, 1,706 in 2010, 2,226 in 2014, 2,967 in 2018 and 3,167 in 2022, according to the data of the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Citing data about the tiger population in India, Modi said, “The tiger numbers that we have reached show that this family of ours is growing. This is a moment of pride. I am confident and I assure the world that in the days to come we will achieve more.”

He added: “The protection of wildlife was a universal issue. IBCA was India’s endeavour for the protection and conservation of big cats. The success of ‘Project Tiger’ was a matter of pride not only for India but the whole world.”

Stating that India had not only saved tigers but also created an ecosystem for them to flourish, Modi said, “India is a country where protecting nature is part of the culture. For wildlife to thrive, it is important for ecosystems to thrive.”

He added: “This has been happening in India. The Sahyadris or Western Ghats have several tribal communities that have worked for wildlife and tigers to flourish. Protecting wildlife is not an issue of just one country, but a global one.”

Pointing out that cheetahs had become extinct in India for over five decades, the prime minister said: “We took an initiative to bring the big cats. We brought the magnificent cheetahs to India from Namibia and South Africa. It was the first successful transcontinental translocation of the big cat.”

He added: “The fact that four cubs have been born to these cheetahs at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. This big cat has taken birth in India after 75 years. It is a good beginning.”

In July 2019, the prime minister called for an “Alliance of Global Leaders” to “obliterate demand” and firmly curb poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Asia.

India launched the IBCA to bring focus on the protection and conservation of seven major big cats of the world — tigers, lions, leopards, snow leopards, pumas, jaguars, and cheetahs — with the membership of the range countries harbouring these species.

India launched “Project Tiger” on 1 April, 1973 to promote tiger conservation.

Initially, it covered nine tiger reserves spread over 18,278 sq km. At present, there are 53 tiger reserves spanning more than 75,000 sq km (approximately 2.4 percent of the country’s geographical area).

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav and Minister of State Ashwini Kumar Choubey were present, among others, at the event.

Also read: Abandoned tiger cubs shifted to Tirupati animal rescue centre

PM on Bandipur safari

PM Narendra Modi went on a safari at the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka amidst the picturesque surroundings of the towering Western Ghats on Sunday, as part of programmes to mark 50 years of Project Tiger.

Modi, who visited Bandipur for the first time, was dressed in a speckled safari clothing and hat and reportedly covered about 20 km in an open jeep the tiger reserve, located partly in the Gundlupet taluk of the Chamarajanagar district, and partly in the HD Kote and Nanjangud taluks of the Mysuru district.

Modi shared pictures of the safari on his Twitter account, in which he can be seen standing in the open jeep, and with a camera and binoculars. He also shared pictures of elephants, langurs, spotted deer, and bisons.

However, he couldn’t spot a tiger during the safari.

On his arrival at Melukamanahalli helipad, the Prime Minister paid respect to a forest martyrs memorial nearby, before leaving for Safari in the forest department’s jeep.

The Prime Minister also interacted with the frontline workers and field directors of the tiger reserves.

According to the state forest department, the National Park was formed by including most of the forest areas of the then Venugopala Wildlife Park established under the government notification dated 19 February, 1941, and the area was enlarged in 1985 extending over an area of 874.20 sq km and named Bandipur National Park.

The reserve was brought under ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973. Subsequently, some adjacent reserve forest areas were added to the reserve extending to 880.02 sq km. The present area under the control of Bandipur Tiger Reserve is 912.04 sq km.

Bandipur National Park is an important part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve that constitutes Karnataka’s Rajiv Gandhi National Park (Nagarahole) to its Northwest, Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary to its South, and Kerala’s Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary to its Southwest.

Once the private hunting grounds of the erstwhile Maharajas, and nestled in the foothills of the Nilgiris, Bandipur has had a long tryst with tigers.

One of the 30 reserves identified across the country to save the tiger and its habitat, it’s also one of the last refuges of the endangered Asiatic wild elephant, according to the state Tourism Department.

Over 200 species of birds and a diversity of flora add to its attraction.

Bandipur also supports a wide range of timber trees including teak, rosewood, sandalwood, Indian-laurel, Indian Kino tree, and giant clumping bamboo.

Also read: Gavi in Pathanamthitta to soon turn 3rd tiger reserve for Kerala

Modi met Elephant Whisperers couple 

Modi also visited Tamil Nadu’s Theppakkadu elephant camp at Mudumalai in the hilly Nilgiris district.

He met the Oscar award-winning documentary The Elephant Whisperers-fame couple Bomman and Bellie. He interacted with both the couple.

He also fed sugarcane to the elephants at Madumalia.

“What a delight to meet the wonderful Bomman and Belli, along with Bommi and Raghu (elephant calves),” he said in a tweet.

The couple was recently felicitated by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin.