India's latest tiger census shows a sharp increase in the number of the endangered cats in the wild, raising hopes that conservation efforts are working, officials said Tuesday. The census conducted in 2014 found at least 2,226 tigers in forests across the country, up from 1,706 counted in 2010.
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar described the figure as a huge success story and said it was the result of sustained conservation efforts. "While the tiger population is falling in the world, it is rising in India. This is great news," Javadekar told journalists in New Delhi. The disappearance of forests has affected the availability of prey and led tigers to stray into human habitats.
Javadekar said more than 9,700 cameras were used in the massive count and the results are the most accurate in the past few decades. "Never before has such an exercise been taken. We have unique photographs of 80 percent of the tigers" in the wild, he said.
Officials said nearly 380,000 square kilometers (146,000 square miles) of forest area in 18 states were surveyed. India faces intense international scrutiny over its tiger conservation efforts as it has nearly three-fourths of the world's estimated 3,200 tigers.
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