India’s tiger population has grown to nearly 3,000 and has been described by the country’s prime minister as a “historic achievement”.
India estimates its tiger population every few years and the number for 2018 was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
The tiger population was 2,226 in 2014 and just 1,400 about 15 years ago.
Mr Modi said the number of protected areas for tigers rose from 692 in 2014 to 860 last year while the number of community reserves went from 43 to 100 over the same period.
“With around 3,000 tigers, India has emerged as of one of the biggest and safest habitats for them in the world,” he said.
Belinda Wright, founder of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, based in New Delhi, said India “still has a long way to go to secure a long-term future for wild tigers”.
But she also said India should, nevertheless, be pleased with the results of what was the largest and most thorough estimation of the tiger population.
The conflict between humans and tigers has made tiger conservation more difficult in recent decades.
Progress has been made since the country started a tiger conservation programme in the 1970s, with the creation of sanctuaries in national parks. It has also been a crime to kill the endangered creatures.
But, as India’s cities and towns expand into tiger habitats, the country’s national animal has struggled to adapt.
Ms Wright said India should avoid “huge linear intrusions, including highways, railways, electric power line and canals through protected areas, as this leads to increased human-tiger conflict”.
On average, one person is killed each day by tigers or elephants, according to the government, and just last week residents of the northern village of Khiri killed a tiger with sticks after it killed a woman.
Tigers and elephants are also still hunted for body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine.