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Tiger, Tiger. Huge Increase in India Numbers

India is now home to 70 per cent of the world's tigers, with new data putting their numbers at 2,226. That is a sharp rise of almost 60 per cent from 2006, when the first scientific and independent estimate delivered a shocking statistic of only 1,411 tigers left in India.

The latest tiger count marks a 30 per cent rise since the last estimate of 1,706 in 2010.

"We have now 2,226 tigers presently in 47 tiger reserves. This is a great achievement," said Prakash Javadekar, the Minister of State for Environment and Forests.

The latest estimation is said to be the most accurate yet, with 1,540 tigers having actually being photographed.

"We could capture 70 per cent of the tigers individually in camera traps. That is unique. Extrapolation based on scientific data has been very little this time," says Rajesh Gopal, Member secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority.

Karnataka, with the most number of tigers at 406, maintains its lead over other states.

Uttarakhand places second, having seen a nearly 50 per cent jump in tiger numbers to 340.

Madhya Pradesh, which was once at the top of the list, is now number three with 308 tigers.

Kerala has performed very well with a 91 per cent rise in tiger numbers to 136.
 
Uttar Pradesh stands out as an exception. It has shown a drop in tiger numbers from 118 to 117.

"We must now gear up to manage the population that is dispersing out of these reserves. Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh will have to work to protect the tigers they have," says Anish Andheria, Director, Wildlife conservation Trust.

India has struggled to stop the rapid decline of its big cat population from an estimated 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century, in the face of poachers, international smuggling networks and loss of habitat.

Most of the animals were killed by poachers who sell the carcasses for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

In 2004, environmentalists were shocked when not a single tiger could be spotted at the popular Sariska wildlife reserve in Rajasthan. It was seen as the biggest crisis in India's conservation history and led to several campaigns to save the tiger.

The NDTV Aircel 'Save Our tigers' Campaign brought together celebrities and environmentalists in a pledge to fight for these animals and through marches, cycle rallies and signature campaigns, urged the government to act before it's too late.

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