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Modi launches International Big Cats Alliance, stresses on biodiversity conservation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches the IBCA in Karnataka (Photo: DD News)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA) for the conservation of seven major big cats – tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar and cheetah in Karnataka on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking on the occasion of 50 years of Project Tiger today, he credited India’s tradition and culture, as well as the country’s rich biodiversity, for the rise in the number of tigers in India, whose population increased by 6.74 per cent from 2,967 in 2018 to 3,167.

Modi said that the success of Project Tiger is a matter of pride not only for India but also for the world. India has not only conserved tigers but has also given them an ecosystem to flourish. The Prime Minister said that the number of tigers in India now consist of around 75 per cent of the world’s tiger population.

Modi said, “A better future for humanity is possible only when our environment remains safe and our biodiversity continues to expand. This responsibility belongs to all of us, it belongs to the whole world. We are continuously encouraging this spirit during our G20 presidency.”

Emphasising on the protection of wildlife as a universal issue, the Prime Minister said: “Project Tiger leads the way in the protection and conservation of the big cats. International Big Cat Alliance is our endeavour for the protection and conservation of big cats”.

He also spoke about ‘Project Cheetah’ and how India re-introduced the cheetah, which had become extinct in India due to hunting, from Namibia and South Africa in one of the most ambitious global wildlife conservation programmes. Modi said: “Cheetahs had become extinct in India decades ago. We brought this magnificent big cat to India from Namibia and South Africa. This is the first successful trans-continental translocation of the big cat. A few days ago, four beautiful cubs were born in Kuno National Park”.

After highlighting the success of Project Tiger and the translocation of the cheetah, Modi spoke about the lions. He said India is the only country in the world to have Asiatic lions, whose population in India has increased from 525 in 2015 to 675 in 2020.

In the meantime, the number of leopards too have increased by over 60 per cent in just four years.

The Prime Minister said: “When their population is stable or decreasing in many tiger reserve countries, then why is it increasing rapidly in India? This is because of the tradition and culture of India and the biodiversity in the Indian society, as well as our natural urge for the environment”.

He added: “With only 2.4 per cent of the world’s land area, India contributes about 8 per cent of known global biodiversity. India is home to the largest tiger range country in the world. We do not believe in the conflict between ecology and economy, but give importance to co-existence between the two”.

In his address, Modi said that the number of community reserves in India increased from 43 to over 100. The number of national parks and sanctuaries, around which eco-sensitive zones were notified, also increased from nine to 468 in a decade.

He stressed that the presence of Big Cats has made a positive impact on ecology and the lives of local people. Due to the Big Cats, Modi said, the number of tourists to tiger reserves has increased which has strengthened the local economy. He added: “The lifestyle of the tribal society also helps a lot in understanding the vision of ‘Mission Life’ i.e. Lifestyle for Environment. That is why I request all of you to definitely take something from the life and tradition of tribal society for your country and society.”

The Prime Minister also released the publication ‘Amrit Kaal Ka Vision for Tiger Conservation’, a summary report of the 5th cycle of Management Effective Evaluation of Tiger Reserves and a commemorative coin on the completion of 50 years of Project Tiger.

Also read: PM Modi to unveil India’s 25-year roadmap on tiger conservation today