What Numbers do not Reveal about Tiger Conservation
- Similipal tiger reserve: Located in Odisha
- Pseudo-melanistic or Black tigers found in this Reserve.
- This happens due to tiger population in Similipal forming a small and isolated population.
Ranthambore tiger reserve: Located in Rajasthan
- Here the genome sequences from wild tigers shows evidence of inbreeding
- Populations that are smaller than 100 breeding individuals have a high probability of extinction.
- Small and isolated populations face a high probability of extinction.
- Individuals in small populations are more likely to be related, leading to inbreeding. This exposes the many slightly disadvantageous genetic variants that are present in all genomes.
- Most tiger populations found across India are smaller than 100.
- The presence of built-up areas and high traffic roads greatly impeded tiger movement.
- Fencing tiger reserves and isolating them can increase chances of extinction due to inbreeding.
- Impending development projects in central India — widening of certain highways, for instance, would make them barriers, thereby increasing the chances extinction substantially.
The Silver lining
- Even though most of the tiger populations across India are small i.e., less than 100 members, the number of tigers is still increasing mostly due to the fact that they are not isolated.
- The movement of Tigers between various reserves have been identified using tracking through radio-collared tigers and DNA analysis of excreta/scat found in various tiger reserves.
- Most land-use types, including agricultural fields, do not hinder tiger connectivity.
- As long as movement of tigers to and from the various reserves is ensured, and the preys and tigers inside tiger reserves are protected, tigers can thrive.
- Genetic rescue or even the introduction of novel genetic variants can reduce the impact of inbreeding.
Source The Hindu