100 years ago, 100,000 tigers thrived in the wild. Today, only 3500 tigers remain. Of the 3500, 2200 tigers reside throughout India in pockets of isolated habitats. The Bengal tiger is the national animal of India and has been an important symbol for centuries.
In 1973, the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, launched Project Tiger, a conservation initiative to restore critical tiger habitat, to mitigate conflict and ensure viable populations of tigers. This initiative led to the establishment of a network of tiger reserves throughout India and today there are over 103 national parks, 520 wildlife sanctuaries, 64 conservation reserves and 4 community reserves dedicated to the preservation of wild tigers. There are two particular national parks in Central India that are of great importance to ensuring a viable tiger population in India.
The Pench and Kanha National Parks in central India inspired Kipling’s Jungle Book and these two National Parks are one of the best places on Earth to see a tiger in the wild. The bio diverse Pench-Kanha landscape consists of 16,000 km2 of tiger habitat that supports approximately 5% of India’s wild tiger population in addition to a number of other threatened wildlife species such as leopards, dholes, gaurs, and hyenas. However, while each of these parks provide excellent tiger habitat and protection, tigers within the region face a variety of conflicts. Here is why.
Tigers are solitary animals and establish their own territories, also known as their home range. Due to a lack of viable space within the national parks, tigers seek refuge outside of the protected areas and travel through buffer zones and communities as they migrate from one park to another. Due to the increase in agricultural development throughout the region, conflicts arise. Threats to tigers and their habitat are a result of livestock grazing around the protected areas, human-tiger conflicts, human encroachment, and resource extraction from the forests. The threat of fragmentation by development projects within this landscape is urgent and it would severely compromise the habitat quality in and around both parks.
Success within the Pench-Kanha landscape depends on the ability of tigers to travel between these two parks within the Pench-Kanha corridor. For tigers to thrive, they will need to rely on this contiguous stretch of forested habitat to take advantage of prey resources and to breed, thereby ensuring continued genetic diversity for the larger tiger population. Despite the increase in development within the Pench-Kanha landscape, there are tremendous opportunities to ensure connectivity between these two national parks.
Tigers for Tigers is in the beginning stages of developing a project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the World Wide Fund for Nature-India to support habitat restoration work within the Pench-Kanha landscape. This project will secure existing habitat, conserve critical corridor parcels, and restore native vegetation so wildlife is free to move from one national park to the other. Overtime we will continue to develop our strategies and efforts to restore critical tiger habitat.
During Tiger Awareness Week, T4T clubs across the country are fundraising for efforts to acquire and restore four farms to healthy tiger habitat outside of Pench National Park. The total area of the farms is 150km2 and each km2 costs around $6,500. By the end of the week, Tigers for Tigers wishes to raise $6,500 to acquire one square km of tiger habitat in Central India.
By making a donation to Tigers for Tigers, you will help us secure our first square km of critical tiger habitat. Let’s ensure that our mascot will remain the king of the jungle.
For more information about the National Tigers for Tigers Coalition, T4T clubs and the Pench-Kanha Corridor Project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.