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21 Jan 2023 - Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and adjoining Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra have collectively won this year's TX2 Award for doubling their population of wild tigers. A second award for Tiger Conservation Excellence has gone to Satpura Tiger Reserve which lies in the same Central India Tiger Landscape - the largest contiguous tiger habitat block in India.
The awards celebrate the close of the 2022 Lunar Year of the Tiger and the transition to the next 12-year intergovernmental period for tiger conservation, the ambition for which will be set out in the second Global Tiger Recovery Program (2023-2034), to be released later this year.
The tiger population of the award winners increased in Pench Madhya Pradesh from 33 (2006) to 87 tigers (2021) and in adjoining Pench Maharashtra from 9 (2008-09) to 44 tigers in 2021 according to NTCA, All India Tiger Estimation. This incredible conservation success follows investment in protection and habitat improvements which in turn has also boosted prey availability. The extensive work by the park managements across both states with local communities to manage and minimise human-wildlife conflicts has been critical to this success and will help ensure the recovery of tigers is sustained for the long-term.
The dry deciduous forest of the adjoining tiger reserves is not only habitat for tigers and their prey but it is also a critical link and source for wild tigers in the Central India Tiger landscape. The adjoining Pench Tiger Reserves support vital ecological connectivity with the winner of this year’s Conservation Excellence award - Satpura Tiger Reserve.
The tiger population of Satpura Tiger Reserve has rebounded over the last decade. One of the conservation efforts include restoration of more than 11000 ha of grassland among others. Satpura Tiger Reserve, is also an archaeologically significant place with more than 50 rock paintings, some of which are 10,000 years old, as a result of which it has been nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage site. The reserve has been recognised at a national level for its successful community engagement which includes 64 Eco-Development Committees in the buffer area which receive a third of the park’s tourism revenue. The park management has boosted prey numbers through effective community engagement, increased protection and also active reintroductions. Reintroduction efforts brought the population of barasingha deer, which was extinct within the reserve, to over 150.
Stuart Chapman, Lead of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative, said: “As the Year of the Tiger draws to a close the international spotlight shines on the remarkable achievements of these sites which have doubled their tiger populations in line with the TX2 commitment made in 2010. The dedication of site managers, field teams, communities and other conservation partners has culminated in these extraordinary results”
Dr. Rajesh Gopal, Secretary General, Global Tiger Forum mentioned that “The TX2 commitment made by tiger range countries gave momentum needed. The contiguous tiger landscape of Pench encompassing two tiger reserves falling in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have put in a lot of effort, and the results are demonstrative. Satpura has achieved several milestones, while securing inviolate space and stepping up protection, with an equally aggressive, co-occurrence portfolio. All three deserve the due recognition.
Mr. Mohnish Kapoor, Head - Programme and Partnerships, Global Tiger Forum stated that “Tiger Governance is a composite portfolio ranging from policy to the field, and the tiger range countries are committed to conserving this iconic species. Kudos to the three tiger reserves for their hard work.”
The awards are presented by the Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS), Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Global Tiger Forum (GTF), IUCN’s Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP), Panthera, UNDP Lion’s Share, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and WWF.
Tigers numbered perhaps 100,000 a century ago but dropped precipitously to as few as 3,200 in 2010. Their numbers have slowly recovered to around 4,500 based on the latest IUCN Red List Status Update released in 2022.
Criteria for the TX2 Award and Conservation Excellence Award can be found here: https://tx2tigeraward.org/
Jennifer Roberts, Director of Development and Communications, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative