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Tigers & Co-predators

Mains-GS-3-Biodiversity, Prelims- Environment

1. According to the Status of Tigers, Co-predators and Prey in India, 2018 report, the number of tigers has increased by 6% every year since 2006.

2. But the situation of sympatric or co-predators of the tiger in India’s forests is not very encouraging.

3. The conservation status of predators like the striped hyena, the Indian wild dog (dhole), jackals and wolves, is a cause of concern in most landscapes.

4. Major areas of distribution of these species are the Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains, Central India and Eastern Ghats and lastly, the Western Ghats.

5. For striped hyena, the area of occupancy has reduced by almost half in the Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains and the Western Ghats landscapes between 2010 and 2018.

6. The area of Jackals has reduced by around 80 and 76% respectively in the Western Ghats between 2010 and now.

7. Under project Tiger, the tiger is considered as an umbrella species, hence it is considered that conserving tiger will conserve the entire ecosystem and other species within it.

8. Now, this method of conservation is being questioned.

Reasons for declining population

1. Striped Hyenas are vulnerable to many kinds of diseases.

2. Dholes predate on livestock, and so they often come into conflict with people.

3. Loss of grasslands and scrublands outside the forested areas that are critical for rearing wolf pup.

4. Indian Wolf mainly occur outside the formal protected area system and are unlikely to be captured by the tiger monitoring exercise.Also, they are persecuted by local communities for livestock predation.

5. Eating pesticide-laden dead poultry as well as cases of Canine Distemper Virus and poaching are leading causes of death in Golden Jackals.

6. The reduction in occupancy area of Sloth bears could be because of sampling and surveying issues.

Measures for protection

1. Majority of Striped Hyenas are found outside protected areas. So,  its conservation efforts need to incorporate involvement of the local communities.

2. Awareness, compensation, and legal enforcement are required for conserving dholes in their landscape.

3. Proper monitoring and studies need to be done for these species.

4. Ecological understanding, regulatory frameworks and management institutions need to come together for effective conservation. And all these are heavily forest-focused.

Source: Down to Earth.