Monday, 20 October 2008 | |

tigress, originally uploaded by Jo Bradford.

An exciting initiative to protect India’s tigers is underway. Recent events have confirmed what those in the field have been saying for years. The Indian tiger is in deep trouble. The poaching onslaught continues, compounding the habitat loss and degradation isolating many of India's protected areas.

The Satpuras are part of the Central Indian Highlands, a series of hills covered by teak and bamboo forests straddling northern Maharashtra and parts of Madhya Pradesh, and one of the tiger's last strongholds. They are the largest contiguous expanse of tiger habitat in India, spread over 6,500kmsq, and encompassing 13 protected areas (PAs) - mostly connected by forest corridors allowing migration and genetic exchange - and five tiger reserves.

There is no doubt of the Satpuras' potential as one of the most important regions for the long-term survival of the striped cat. When Born Free decided to step up its tiger conservation work in India, rather than dissipate funds in several regions, it was felt more would be gained by focusing on a 'landscape area'.

It is early days, but hopes are that this will be a significant step forward for the conservation of the tiger and its habitat in central India.