- To commemorate 50 years of Project Tiger, the Prime Minister launched the International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) for conservation of seven big cats namely Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Cheetah, Jaguar and Puma harbouring our planet.
- The PM also released the summary report of All India Tiger Estimation (5th cycle). He also released a commemorative coin on the completion of 50 years of Project Tiger.
Key Points of PM Speech
- India has only 2.4 percent of the world’s land area but it contributes toward 8 percent to known global biodiversity. India is the largest tiger range country in the world, the largest Asiatic elephant range country in the world with nearly thirty thousand elephants, and also the largest single-horn rhino country with a population of nearly three thousand.
- India is a country where protecting nature is a part of the culture. The Prime Minister emphasized that India has not only saved the tiger population from declining but also provided an ecosystem where tigers can flourish.
- The tiger reserves in India cover 75,000 square kilometers of land and in the past ten to twelve years, the tiger population in the country has increased by 75 percent.
- India does not believe in the conflict between ecology and economy, and gives equal importance to the coexistence of both.
- Recalling the importance of tigers in the history of India, the Prime Minister mentioned that the Bharia community from Central India and Worli community from Maharashtra among others worship the tiger.
- The Prime Minister reiterated that the success of Project Tiger has many dimensions and it has led to an increase in tourist activity, awareness programs and a reduction in Man-Animal conflicts in Tiger Reserves. The presence of big cats has made a positive impact on the lives and ecology of the local people everywhere.
International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA)
- In July 2019, the Prime Minister called for an Alliance of Global Leaders to obliterate demand and firmly curb poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Asia.
- In this regard, the International Big Cats Alliance is being launched which will focus on the protection and conservation of seven major big cats of the world.
- The alliance aims to reach out to 97 range countries covering the natural habitats of Tiger, Lion, Snow Leopard, Puma, Jaguar, and Cheetah. IBCA would further strengthen global cooperation and efforts to conserve the wild denizens, especially the big cats.
Significance of the Alliance
- The alliance seeks to bring together countries, conservationists, and experts from around the world to collaborate on conservation efforts for these seven big cat species.
- Through IBCA, India hopes to share knowledge, expertise, and best practices in conserving these species with other countries that have significant big cat populations, such as Indonesia, Brazil, and South Africa.
- The alliance also aims to facilitate collaborations between governments, NGOs, and the private sector to create sustainable solutions for conservation.
What are the ‘big seven cats’?
- Cat Family and Genus:
- The Family of Cats (Felidae) comprises three genus: (1) Panthera, (2) Puma, and (3) Acinonyx.
- Panthera: This is the genus of large wild cats that can generally roar, but can’t purr. It includes Lion, Leopard, Jaguar, Tiger and snow leopard. The snow leopard is an exception to the rest of the group in that it can’t roar.
- Puma: Closely related to the domestic cat, this genus has only one extant species, the cougar.
- Acinonyx: This is a unique genus within the cat family, with only one living member, the cheetah.
- Tiger (Panthera Tigris)
- Status: Endangered
- Tiger is the largest of all wild cats and also the earliest Panthera member to exist. Primarily a forest animal, they range from the Siberian taiga to the Sunderban delta.
- It is the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and South Korea.
- Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in 1973 by the Government of India. It is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- Lion (Panthera Leo)
- Status: Vulnerable.
- Native to Africa and Asia, the lion is the most social cat, and lives in groups called prides.
- They prefer open forests such as scrubland, and adult males have a prominent mane.
- Range of Asiatic lion is restricted to Gir National Park of Gujarat.
- The National Emblem of India is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka erected by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in Sarnath.
- Jaguar (Panthera Onca)
- Status: Near Threatened
- The largest cat in the Americas, the Jaguar has the strongest bite force of all wild cats, enabling it to bite directly through the skull of its prey.
- Melanistic (black) Jaguars are common and are often called black panthers.
- Leopard (Panthera Pardus)
- Status: Vulnerable
- It is similar in appearance to the Jaguar with a rosette patterned coat.
- The most adaptable of all big cats, they occupy diverse habitats at all altitudes across Africa and Asia.
- Like black jaguars, melanistic leopards are called black panthers.
- Snow leopard (Panthera Uncia)
- Status: Vulnerable
- This smokey-grey cat lives above the snow line in Central and South Asia.
- Of all big cats, it cannot roar, and has the longest tail of them all — which comes in handy for balance while hunting along the cliffs, and also gives warmth when wrapped around the body.
- The snow leopard is the state animal of Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.
- Cougar (Puma concolor)
- Status: Least Concern
- The cougar is the second-largest cat in the Americas. (The Jaguar is the largest.)
- Cougars are also called ‘mountain lion’ and ‘panther’ across their range from the Canadian Yukon to the Southern Andes.
- Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
- Status: Vulnerable
- The fastest land mammal, the cheetah is the only cat without retractable claws — the grip helps it accelerate faster than any sports car (0-100 km/hr in 3 seconds).
- Cheetahs are not aggressive towards humans, and they have been tamed since the ancient era.
- They don’t breed well in captivity.
- Cheetahs are not really big, and they hunt during the day to avoid competing with other big cats.