India is home to over 60% of the world’s tigers, so what happens here has a big impact on the fate of the world’s wild tigers.
And in what is a leap forward for tiger conservation, the Indian government has announced that 14 Tiger Reserves have been Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS) approved - a year after it registered 50 Tiger Reserves following the declaration on Global Tiger Day 2020.
CA|TS is a global conservation tool that sets best practice and standards to manage target species, and encourages assessments to benchmark progress. Habitats which support tiger populations are the building blocks of wild tiger conservation and effectively managing them is essential for tigers' long-term survival. CA|TS is being implemented across 125 sites in seven tiger range countries and India has the biggest number with 94 sites.
Dr. Joydeep Bose, Associate Director & Lead-Protection for Wildlife & Habitats and Coordinator of CA|TS at WWF-India tells us more about this news and what it means for tigers in India.
Why is the CA|TS announcement by the Indian government significant for tiger conservation?
India already has three CA|TS approved sites and this announcement further shows how committed the Indian government is to tiger conservation. They’ve made good progress in conserving tigers over the years and achieving 14 CA|TS approved Tiger Reserves out of 15 recommended to the International Executive Committee is a considerable achievement.
CA|TS is internationally recognised and it is expected to help improve the profile of the sites, especially the non Tiger Reserves. This could improve management practices and unlock potential new partnerships and resources for India’s wildlife conservation areas.
How do CA|TS approved sites benefit tigers?
Being CA|TS approved increases the site profile and recognition at an international level while also improving its chances of gaining more attention for the site. This could range from in kind support to resources.
CA|TS doesn’t just benefit tigers in India, it is a standardised and international conservation tool so every site, whether it’s in India, Nepal or Malaysia, is assessed with the same criteria which will help improve tiger conservation across Asia.
How does the CA|TS conservation tool benefit other wildlife and people?
In their range tigers are the top predator in the ecosystem. CA|TS is expected to improve tiger conservation management which will benefit the whole ecosystem, not just tigers, and local communities also benefit from ecosystem services, such as clean water, that are generated.
What does WWF-India hope to achieve in the future?
Not all the sites that are CA|TS approved are Tiger Reserves. The existing three CA|TS approved sites are Forest Divisions which are Protected Areas under IUCN criteria. These sites don’t solely focus on tiger conservation but show tremendous potential for tiger conservation which is proven through the CA|TS approval.
WWF-India aims to strengthen the management of its priority sites, Tiger Reserves as well as non Tiger Reserves, through the CA|TS process in partnership with the Global Tiger Forum on behalf of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) of India. It also will encourage the use of CA|TS-LOG across the tiger sites for effective monitoring and conservation of tigers.
In the future we hope the tiger’s range in India can be expanded to previously occupied and new areas which will help us go beyond the TX2 goal of doubling wild tigers.
India’s progress is proof that with political will, funding and the support of partners such as local communities, doubling wild tigers is possible despite the challenges conservation faces today.