India to set up International Big Cat Alliance
March 2, 2024

Why in news?

  • The Union Cabinet approved the establishment of International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) with headquarters in India with a one-time budgetary support of Rs.150 crore for a period of five years from 2023-24 to 2027-28.
  • Framework of Agreement of IBCA has been drafted largely on the pattern of International Solar Alliance (ISA).

What’s in today’s article?

  • International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA)
  • Is India Home to All Seven Big Cats?

International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA)

  • Background:
    • During the Global Tiger Day event in 2019, PM Modi urged global leaders to unite against poaching in Asia.
    • He repeated this call during the 50th anniversary celebration of India's Project Tiger on April 9, 2023, announcing the launch of an International Big Cat Alliance.
  • About
    • The International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) is a global alliance that aims to conserve the world's seven main big cats.
    • It will provide a platform for the member nations to share knowledge and expertise and extend support to recovery efforts in potential habitats.
  • Aim: To work towards the protection and conservation of the seven major big cats — tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar and cheetah.
  • HQ: India
  • Membership
    • Membership to the alliance will be open to 96 range countries.
      • These are the countries which contain the natural habitat of these big cats.
    • The alliance is also open to other countries, conservation organisations, scientific organisations, businesses, and corporates interested in supporting big cats.
    • So far, 16 countries have given their written consent to be part of the IBCA.
    • In addition, nine international organizations, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International, have given consent to join the alliance.
  • Governance Structure
    • A General Assembly consisting of all member countries.
    • A Council of at least seven but not more than 15 member countries elected by the General Assembly for a term of 5 years, and a Secretariat.
    • Upon the recommendation of the Council, the General Assembly will appoint the IBCA Secretary General for a specific term.
    • A Secretariat
  • Funding
    • The first five years (2023-24 to 2027-28) will be supported by India's 'total grant assistance' ofRs.150 crore.
    • After that, the IBCA is expected to sustain itself through membership fees and contributions from bilateral and multilateral institutions and the private sector.
  • Activities
    • It will provide a platform for the member nations to share knowledge and expertise and extend support to recovery efforts in potential habitats.
    • Its major activities will include advocacy, partnership, knowledge e-portal, capacity building, eco-tourism, partnerships between expert groups, and finance tapping.
    • IBCA will also assist existing species-specific inter-governmental platforms to boost conservation efforts.
  • Benefits
    • The advantages of membership are a central common repository for technical know-how and a corpus of funds.
    • The alliance will strengthen existing species-specific intergovernmental platforms, networks, and transnational initiatives on conservation and protection.
    • Frontline staff in member-countries will be trained in eliciting local support for big-cat conservation, and research and development in wildlife monitoring.
    • Local communities living in the vicinity of the forests will also be encouraged and trained in developing eco-tourism and livelihood opportunities.
    • It recognizes the importance of integrating biodiversity policies with sustainable development goals (SDGs) to achieve holistic and inclusive conservation outcomes.

Is India Home to All Seven Big Cats?

  • Out of 7 big cats, India is home to 5: Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard and Cheetah
  • Royal Bengal Tiger
    • As per the latest Tiger Census conducted in 2018-19, tiger population in India has increased to 2967.
    • India now accounts for about 70% of the world’s tiger population.
  • Asiatic Lion
    • Gir National Park in Gujarat is the last abode for the surviving population of the Asiatic Lions in the world.
    • Since the late 1960s, population of Asiatic Lions has increased from less than 200 to 674 (Census 2020).
  • Leopard
    • It is estimated that 12,000-14,000 leopards occur in India, and the population is the most genetically diverse/outbred out of all the subspecies in Asia.
  • Snow Leopard
    • Snow leopard is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia.
    • In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas.
    • In 2021, there are about 7,500 snow leopards left in the world, out of which 500 are in India.
  • Cheetah
    • Cheetah had become extinct in India since 1952.
    • In September 2022, Cheetahs have been reintroduced in the wild in India as 8 Cheetahs were imported from Namibia.
    • They were released into the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh in November, 2022.