The census counted at least 1,706 tigers in forests across the country, about 300 more than four years ago, a government official said today.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh called the increase good news but cautioned against any complacency in efforts to save the iconic animal from extinction.Conservationists used hidden cameras and DNA tests to count the cats in 19 Indian states where tigers live in the wild.
The census included 70 tigers in the eastern Indian Sunderbans Tiger Reserve, which had not been counted in the last census in 2007. Not counting the Sunderbans population, the latest count reflects an increase of about 16 percent.
The 2007 census had shown 1,411 tigers, a sharp fall in the population from about 3,600 five years earlier.
A century ago, about 100,000 tigers roamed India’s forests.
Shrinking habitats have brought the wild cats into conflict with farmers and poachers who kill them for pelts and body parts, highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine.