In India, wild tiger numbers have gone from 1411 (SE range 1,165 to 1,675) in 2006 to 2967 (SE range 2,603 to 3,346) in 2018 (Status of Tigers in India, 2020). Tigers are known for their large home ranges and great dispersal distances. Often, they move beyond the boundaries of tiger reserves and protected areas. The National Tiger Conservation Authority estimated that approximately 40% of all tigers in India live outside the reserves in unprotected lands. These unprotected lands are mosaics of multiple-use forests and agricultural fields surrounding villages, towns, and cities.
Rapid economic growth and an ever-increasing human population are fuelling a rapid transformation of villages, towns, and cities in India. The natural landscapes surrounding these rapidly transforming human habitations are typically over-grazed, fragmented, and disturbed by human activities (McKinney, 2002).
Interestingly, in this Anthropocene, wildlife continues to survive in India. Wildlife is reported from many urban areas of India. For example, leopards survive in and around big cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, and Visakhapatnam without getting into many conflicts with humans.
Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is surrounded by forests and other natural habitat types. The Vindhyan hill ranges from escarpments that have offered haven to not only a wide range of flora and fauna but used to offer shelter to prehistoric human populations as well. Once a small town, Bhopal expanded rapidly outwards in the last twenty years, and today the urban municipal area stretches to approximately 300sq km. Today Bhopal has a human population of over 3 million.
The Bhopal Urban Tiger Project is the first scientific research aimed at understanding how the magnificent tigers are surviving in urban and semi-urban areas around the city of Bhopal. The study will help inform Bhopal's local stakeholders and government decision-makers about the presence of a healthy ecosystem with tigers as its apex predator and aid the conservation of this unique landscape. The behavioral and dietary adaptation by large carnivores such as tigers living in and around the urban environment is a topic of global interest for wildlife conservation.
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