New Delhi: Efforts to save the tiger have pushed India's population of the big cat to nearly 2,500, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday, hailing the strides the country has made in this regard.
Highlighting the need for protecting tiger corridors, he announced incentivising project proponents to give land for compensatory afforestation in Tiger corridors.
As per latest official count, India is home to 2,226 tigers, representing 70 per cent of the global population of the endangered big cat species.
"In the last two years, the number has risen and our rough estimate as of today is that India has nearly 2,500 tigers.
"That is a good news for India... (a result) of what we are doing for the last 12 years. We have zero tolerance towards poaching," Javadekar said at the inauguration of the 3rd Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation.
He said that as per World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates, the tiger population the world over has grown from 3,200 to 3,890 in the last five years, a 22 per cent increase.
"That is a great good news today morning," he said, adding that there are only 13 countries with tigers in the wild and six of them have seen an increase in their numbers.
"That shows that we are getting success. It was a proud moment for me when we had undertaken a tiger count in 2014... When I wrote 2,226 as India's tiger count it was fantastic as it was 30 per cent more than the last count. This is 70 per cent of the world tiger population," he said.
Stating that the tiger epitomises the health of the ecosystem, he stressed that success with tiger conservation means the whole ecosystem is improving.
"We are taking a historic decision to protect tiger corridors. By such measures over the years, we can free the tiger corridors and these will become forest land," he said.
"We have started a unique experiment with new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for orphaned tiger cubs. This has started yielding results and four such orphaned tigers have been released back into the wild after proper care in 'in situ' enclosures," he said.
Javadekar lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's commitment towards tiger conservation and said he had adopted the best conservation practices during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
"The growing number of lions in Gujarat is a testimony to his efforts," the minister said.
He also referred to the increase in the budget for Project Tiger from Rs 185 crore to Rs 380 crore, adding that, with the 60:40 participation of states, this increase translates to Rs 500 crore in one year for tiger protection.
Chairman of the Global Tiger Forum and Minister of Agriculture & Forests, Bhutan, Yeshey Dorji, also addressed the
Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Ashok Lavasa, delivered the vote of thanks.