Tigers gobble up 49 percent of India's wildlife conservation funds, more imperiled species get nothing
February 12, 2013
Bengal tiger in Rantgambhore National Park. Photo by: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen.
Nearly half of India's wildlife budget goes to one species: the tiger, reports a recent article in Live Mint. India has devoted around $63 million to wildlife conservation for 2013-2013, of which Project Tiger receives $31 million. The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is currently listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List; however India is also home to 132 species currently considered Critically Endangered, the highest rating before extinction.
After tigers, elephants receive the next greatest amount: $4 million or 6 percent of the total. Combating the illegal wildlife trade—one of the gravest threats to many of India's species—is funded with just $1 million. Many of the nation's species receive no government funding whatsoever.
"The Great Indian bustard was a priority species for action for which we even developed a species recovery plan (along with the Bengal florican, the lesser florican, Jerdon's courser, the giant clam, the hangul, the Bastar wild buffalo), but funds were not allocated by the government," Asad Rahmani, the director of the Bombay Natural History Society told Live Mint.
The Great Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) is down to only about 250 individuals. The hangul, or Kashmir stag (Cervus elaphus hanglu), has fallen to 160 individuals. After being thought extinct for 80 years, Jerdon's courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) may be down to just fifty birds.
Worldwide, there are around 3,000 tigers surviving in six distinct subspecies. The Bengal tiger is generally considered to be the most robust. In 2010, all 13 tiger range countries met for a Tiger Summit and pledged millions to protect the world's largest cat from extinction. Some conservationists argued that protecting flagship species—such as the tiger or elephant—translates into protections for other species in the same habitats. While this is somewhat true, many of India's imperiled species, for example, are found outside of tiger habitat. In addition, more-and-more threatened species require targeted conservation actions if they are to survive.
Illustration of the Great Indian bustard which stands about one meter (3.3 feet) high. From Thomas Hardwicke's Illustrations of Indian Zoology.
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