If the Narendra Modi government succeeds, India may soon see a surge in foreign tourists visiting wildlife parks and reserves to see its 2,226 tigers.
Anil Madhav Dave, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, "exhorted tourists from across the world to come to India to see the Tiger," according to a government statement. The invite, so to speak, came from Dave on International Tiger Day 2016 on July 29, when he addressed school students at the flag-off ceremony of "Walk for the Tiger" event in New Delhi.
India's tigers live in 49 parks and reserves spread across 17 Indian states and the country has a project to double its tiger population by 2022.
While expressing satisfaction on India's efforts to conserve tiger population, the minister said the dwindling number of the animal in some parts of the world is a cause for concern.
"Due to the ongoing conservation efforts under Project Tiger, India has the maximum number of tigers, along with its source areas, amongst the 13 Tiger Range Countries in the world," Dave said.
The status of wild tiger across Tiger Range Countries (TRCs) continues to remain endangered. "Though there have been some gains in the population build-up in a few TRCs like India, Nepal, Bhutan and Russia, the global scenario is a major cause for concern," he added.
In India, the population of the animal faced more threat this year, with more tigers killed till April than those killed in the whole of 2015, news agency AFP had reported earlier. Citing data by Wildlife Protection Society of India, the agency said 28 tigers were killed till April 26 this year, as against 25 in 2015.
Tiger poaching is attributed to demand in neighbouring China where tiger meat and bones fetch high prices for their presumed medicinal value, the agency said.
Poaching of tiger and other wildlife animals, along with illegal mining and logging, form part of a thriving environmental crime estimated in the range of $91 to 258 billion in 2015, according to report prepared jointly by the United Nations and the Interpol.
India gets about 8 million foreign tourists every year, with earnings from the tourists hovering around $20 billion last calendar year.