Gone are the days when India had a teeming tiger population of 50,000. According to the latest census, there are only 1706 tigers left in the country, but the big cats are known to be prolific breeders and every year dozens of cubs are reported from many of our parks.
Here's how it adds up:
- Of the 1700-odd tigers, approximately half are female
- Of the 850 female tigers, half of them can bear cubs
- About 400 female tigers bear 2 cubs in 2 years
-- Every 2 years, 800 cubs added to the tiger population
-- If cub mortality is 50 per cent, it leaves us with 400 cubs
Tiger population, therefore, should technically increase exponentially every two years, even taking into account natural and accidental deaths. But this is not the case.
The truth is that our dispersing populations seem to be walking into a black hole and poaching and conflict deaths are much higher than reported.
This is where we are truly failing our tigers.
India certainly cannot sustain 50,000 tigers anymore but at least we can reach our optimum numbers.