‘Tiger Matters’ is a conservation documentary film that highlights the critical linkage between tigers, forests, river systems and humans essential for our ecological and economic security. The film details the intricate and interwoven actions needed to secure the future of tiger habitats and local communities.
‘Tiger Matters’ is also the name of a joint programme by WCT and USAID, executed in close cooperation with the forest departments of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. This program, which aims to strengthen the protection mechanisms within and outside the boundaries of tiger reserves, began in 2014. The ‘Tiger Matters’ programme uses a holistic 360 degree approach to conservation. The approach involves engaging with local communities as a key component towards achieving long-term conservation goals. The film details important aspects like education and livelihood programmes along with a deep scientific approach to conservation, shedding light on otherwise unknown aspects of wildlife conservation.
An estimated 3,500 wild tigers remain worldwide and India is home to approximately 65% of them. The ‘Tiger Matters’ programme focuses on the all-important Central Indian Landscape, which is home to 31% of India’s tigers. Research undertaken as part of the programme yielded strong evidence from camera traps of the existence of a robust tiger population outside the boundaries of protected areas, in need of protection.
Tigers face immense threats, especially from poaching, dwindling prey populations, and loss of habitats. Forest fragmentation caused by increased economic growth is likely to put pressure on the last remaining forests outside protected areas by hampering connectivity and escalating human-wildlife conflict.
The ‘Tiger Matters’ programme has been addressing these very challenges; and some of its key achievements are listed below:
1. Indicated the crucial functionality of corridors.
2. Over 8,000 sq. km. of Central Indian Landscape camera trapped through 78,000 camera trap nights. Over 5,800 sq. km. of this was in the corridors.
3. Detailed GIS mapping of 100,000 sq. km. carried out to understand the change in land use patterns across the Central Indian landscape.
4. Drove the policy for the inclusion of Pench-Kanha, Pench-Nagzira, Nagzira-Tadoba, Tadoba-Melghat corridors in the tiger conservation plans of the respective tiger reserves.
5. Helped the state of Maharashtra to publish a first-of-its-kind ‘State of the Tigers’ report based on the extensive camera trapping exercise.
6. Discovery of the Eurasian Otter in Satpura Tiger Reserve and Kanha-Pench corridor.
7. Health needs assessment of close to 3,000 forest staff in the Central Indian Landscape.
8. Over 46,000 children benefitted through an intensive education programme in government schools situated in the buffer zones of tiger reserves.
We hope and wish that the film provides budding conservationists, researchers, like-minded organisations and enthusiasts the opportunity to imbibe valuable knowledge, and inspire them to work towards conserving India’s rich natural heritage.