India praised for tiger conservation efforts
India's efforts to protect the tiger have helped lead to a sustained recovery, but Asian governments must take urgent action to protect other endangered species, the Wildlife Conservation Society has warned
A visit to a wildlife sanctuary while on an overland adventure through India can make for a memorable experience.
Not only do you have the chance to see elephants, snakes, antelope and many other species, if you're very lucky you might even spot a tiger.
India is home to the world's majority of Bengal tigers, with an estimated 1,520 to 1,909 members of this rare and iconic species estimated to live in the country's forests and jungles.
And in recent years, India has taken a number of steps to help ensure this tiger population is not only protected but is allowed to flourish, a commitment that was recognised this month by the influential US-based wildlife organisation the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Speaking at the recent World Conservation Congress convening in Jeju, South Korea, WCS president and chief executive Dr Cristian Samper highlighted India as an example of the positive impact countries can have on endangered species.
"India took responsibility for the tiger when it announced Project Tiger in 1972. By doing so it sent a clear message that the fate of the wild tiger was in its hands and India alone would be held accountable for their future," he said.
"This almost unprecedented commitment led to one of the few examples of a major Asian species undertaking a sustained recovery. Today, while problems and challenges remain, India remains committed to ensuring that tigers are conserved effectively within its boundaries."
However, the WCS also warned that a great number of threatened Asian species are now at a "conservation crossroads" and could perish altogether unless governments take urgent action.
The organisation has published a list of Asian species whose future is most uncertain, including the tiger, orangutans, Mekong giant catfish, Asian rhinos, Asian giant river turtles and Asian vultures.
"Though each Asian species on the list faces daunting challenges from a variety of factors including habitat loss, and illegal hunting and trade, WCS believes that Asian governments have the ability - and financial means - to turn the tide on extinction," the WCS said.