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India's Tiger Population Comes Roaring Back: 30 Percent Increase Seen in Population

Tiger populations in India are rebounding, seeing a 30 percent increase in just three years, according to a recent survey of the wild felines. The government of India recently announced the number of wild tigers in their country increased from 1,706 in 2011 up to 2,226 in 2014.

Roughly 70 percent of the global population of tigers make their home in India, wildlife researchers believe. Efforts to control poaching have become more robust over the last few years, and there's been more focus on management of tiger-human interactions, including against encroachment of developed areas in the native habitat of tigers. These efforts are in addition to the Special Programme for Orphan Tiger Cubs and the efforts of the Special Tiger Protection Force.

This nationwide survey, which studied animals over 146,000 square miles of land in 18 states, was the third to be conducted by the government in New Delhi. Measured populations continued to rise in each survey, with just 1,411 animals seen in 2006. A new camera system dramatically increases the number of animals seen in the recorded images, providing a degree of surveillance never seen before in studies of the animals.

"Never before has such an exercise been taken on such a massive scale where we have unique photographs of 80 percent of India's tigers. While the tiger population is falling in the world, it is rising in India. This is great news," Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, told reporters in Delhi.

India is now ready to donate tiger cubs to other nations and international organizations to help restock depleted populations elsewhere, Javadekar announced.

Tigers in India had experienced a dwindling population, as humans began to encroach on their environment, chopped down forests for agriculture, and built homes and factories. This altered the availability of prey animals, forcing tigers to enter human habitations, where they can pose a danger to the public.

"Shri Javadekar further stated that the successful tiger conservation practices in the country could be adopted and practiced by the international community as a step towards sustainable forest management. Shri Javadekar lauded the efforts of the Tiger Reserves Management and Project Tiger Team for the achievement," India's Ministry of Environment and Forests stated in a press release.

Roughly 100,000 tigers roamed the wild lands of India in the early 20th century. Their numbers steadily declined until a ban on tiger hunting was instituted around the nation in the 1970s. Wildlife sanctuaries and wildlife reserves were established to protect the individuals still alive, and rebuild their numbers. The government studied qualitative and quantitative estimates of the benefits of tiger reserves, including ecological, economic, social and cultural services, and it also found forest cover improved in core areas of tiger reserves.

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