India has more tigers than any country–and now they think they have more than five years ago. The exact population is impossible to count, so every four years India does a census with sampling. The 2010 count estimates between 1571 and 1875–up 12% from between 1165 and 1657 tigers in 2006. But it shows tiger habitat fell from 9 to 7 million hectacres.
So, that means either the animals are crowding into smaller spaces. A higher tiger density would be great for wildlife watchers–though not really for tigers. This is what the Ministry of Environment and Forests believes and they’d like to develop corridors among India’s 29 tiger preserves.
And the provinces where the tiger count is down–Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Jharkhand–are finding ways to question the survey, too says Hindustan Times. “We don’t agree with the number as of now,” said PS Pable, Madhya Pradesh’s Chief Wildlife Warden, told the paper.
Here’s one piece of data I find hard to believe: the survey claims to have employed “~4,76,000” workers, who worked for “27,300 man-days of research.” That amounts to half a nearly half a million people, working on average 27.5 minutes each. Silly.
The ministry defended the research saying that they used 800 camera traps–one on every 4 square miles of land–over two months. Since tigers’ stripes are like fingerprints, they used the photos to identify 550 individual cats–nearly one-quarter of the population.