NEW DELHI : India's wild tiger population has increased by more than 30 percent in the last four years, according to a new census released on Monday, raising hopes for the survival of the endangered species.

In what Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed as a ''historic achievement'', the census found 2,967 tigers in the wild across the country, up from 2,226 four years ago.

''We reaffirm our commitment towards protecting the tiger,'' Modi said in Delhi at the release of the latest census.

''Some 15 years ago, there was serious concern about the decline in the  population of tigers. It was a big challenge for us but with determination, we have achieved our goals.''

The massive surveys are conducted every four years, with the largest census, titled All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018, spanning 15 months and using 26,000 camera traps that took almost  350,000 images across known known tiger habitats, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said in announcing its release.

Images that showed the big cats were analysed using computer programmes to individually identify each creature. Wildlife and forestry officials also scoured 380,000 square kilometres of terrain.

In 1900, more than 100,000 tigers were estimated to roam the planet. But that fell to a record low of 3,200 globally in 2010.

That year, India and 12 other countries with tiger populations signed an agreement to double their big cat numbers by 2022.

Population numbers in the nation have risen steadily since falling to a record low of 1,411 in 2006.

But they are yet to return to the tally of 2002 when some 3,700 tigers were estimated to be alive in the country.

It is believed that some 40,000 tigers lived in India at the time of independence from Britain in 1947.

Wildlife experts lauded the government effort and said the rise in numbers heralded a new chapter in the conservation of big cats in India. ''The scale and magnitude of the assessment is unparalleled globally,'' said Global Tiger Forum secretary general Rajesh Gopal. [AFP]

The Operational research on these beautiful Wild Cats will continue.


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