The natural world is currently experiencing the 6th mass extinction, species are declining at an astonishing rate with bewilderingly brutal conditions prevailing on survivors. However, not all stories from the fringes of survival are disheartening; some are stories of incredibly committed and talented conservationists excelling in their fields with their chosen species on the return to prosperity.
One such story is that of the Indian or Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), already the most numerous species of tiger. However, this fact is indicative of the decline that tiger populations have experienced in the last 100 years. Indian tigers are currently estimated to number between 2,700 - 3,800, in comparison to the over 100,000 individuals estimated 100 years ago. The accuracy of these population estimates have been bolstered by innovative techniques replacing ambiguous strategies, namely using camera traps to identify individuals rather than counting paw prints.
Increases in the robustness of conservation research methods are some of the reasons behind this success story. Accurate population estimates and habitat assessments are key to increasing the population of Indian tiger as well as collaborative conservation which is being achieved through a partnership of 13 nations committing to doubling the population of tigers by 2022. The process has already experienced success as populations have increased by 33% since 2015, showing the process is already working.
There is more reason for optimism, in India there is an estimated 300,000 square kilometres of uninhabited forest. Much of this forest is well protected and under the jurisdiction of wildlife reserve authorities. If these areas are used for tiger conservation the possibility for rapid and sustainable population growth is attainable.
However, officials in India are appearing to be more inclined to use these habitats for infrastructural development to aid economic growth. This inclination will have been stimulated further by the slowing of the global economy. Now more than ever we need to influence government decision to focus on the conservation of biodiversity and, by association, tigers. How can we do this? Support organisations such as the Tiger Research and Conservation Trust (http://www.tractindia.org/) or Panthera (https://www.panthera.org/cat/tiger).
Don't let the only sight future generations have of tigers be that of a Joe Exotic style petting zoo. You personally can make a difference, so why not do it?
I write, positively, about wildlife and environmental conservation with an emphasis on the need for action and how we can save the planet. Building on my North Pole expedition I will write about adventure and exploration with a view to how it can benefit you, your business and achieving your own goals