The Central government on Friday informed the Supreme Court that according to a 2018 report, there are 2,967 tigers in the country spread across 53 tiger reserves.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, submitted before a bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna that a lot of work has been done for the conservation of tigers and increasing their population, and their current numbers stand at 2,967.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority, in a status report filed in the apex court, said: "India has become home to more than 70 per cent tiger population in the world. A comprehensive report of All India Tiger Estimation (2018) was released on July 29, 2020. The fourth round of country level tiger status assessment completed in 2018, with findings indicating an increase with a tiger population estimate of 2,967 (lower and upper limits being 2,603 and 3,346 respectively), as compared to the last country level estimation of 2014, with an estimation of 2,226, 2010 estimation with an estimation of 1,706 and 2006 estimation, with an estimate of 1,411."
The report added that due to efforts of the government through the NTCA, the tiger has been taken from the brink of extinction to an assured path of recovery, which is evident in findings of the quadrennial All India Tiger Estimation conducted in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.
"These results have shown a healthy annual growth rate of tigers at 6 per cent, which offsets natural losses and keeps tigers at the habitats carrying capacity level, in the Indian context," it added.
The report said the fifth cycle of All India Tiger Estimation is currently ongoing and it will be completed in 2023.
"Status of leopards in India was released wherein population estimate of 12,582, was reported in assessed areas of tiger landscape. This increase is more than 60 per cent in comparison to the last such assessment done in 2014," it added.
The status report was filed in response to a petition filed by advocate Anupam Tripathi in 2017 seeking to save endangered tigers whose numbers are dwindling in the country.
The top court recorded Bhat's submissions and scheduled the matter for further hearing in March, as Tripathi was not present.
In 2017, the apex court had issued notice to the Ministry of Environment, the National Board for Wildlife, and the NTCA.