With around 3,000 tigers, India has become "one of the safest habitats" for the big cats in the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today as he released the All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018.The population of tigers in India has increased from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018, a rise of 33 per cent, according to the latest tiger census report.
"The results of the just declared tiger census would make every Indian, every nature lover happy," PM Modi said this morning.
"The story which started from 'Ek Tha Tiger' and reached to 'Tiger Zinda hai', shouldn't end there," he said, referring to the Salman Khan-starrer Bollywood movies in his address.
"Nine long years ago, it was decided in St. Petersburg that the target of doubling the tiger population would be 2022. We, in India, completed this target four years early," PM Modi said.
The population of big cats in the country has risen steadily since falling to its lowest-recorded figure of 1,411 in 2006. "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," PM Modi said.
The massive tiger census is conducted every four years and the latest survey used 26,000 camera traps that took almost 350,000 images across known tiger habitats, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said at the release of the report.
To mark the International Tiger Day, PM Modi also released a report titled "Management Effectiveness & Evaluation of Tiger reserves" and also a trailer of movie "Counting Tigers", which explains the procedure of counting tigers in India.
In his speech, PM Modi also talked about the need of striking a "healthy balance between development and environment". "There is a very old debate - development or environment. Both sides present views as if each is mutually exclusive," he said.
"In our policies, in our economics, we have to change the conversation about conservation," PM Modi stressed.
"I am confident that India will prosper both economically and environmentally. India will build more roads and India will have cleaner rivers. India will have better train connectivity and also greater tree coverage," PM Modi added.
International Tiger Day is observed globally on July 29 to raise awareness on tiger conservation.