New Delhi, April 12: India has a "successful track record of protecting its tigers", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday at an international tiger conference here, as India announced an increase in its tiger population - at 2,500 tigers in the wild - from 2,226 in 2014.
Modi, addressing the inaugural function of the three-day 'Third Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation', said: "India has a successful track record of protecting its tigers, and by doing so the entire ecosystem gets protected."
Earlier, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that "India has 2,500 tigers as of today, up from 2,226 in 2014."
Modi, in his address, said: "Benefits from tiger conservation are enormous, but intangible. We cannot quantify this in economic terms."
"Forests are inseparable from wild animals. Both are mutually complementary. Destruction of one leads to destruction of the other."
He also stressed on the challenges faced in tiger conservation from poaching.
"Conservation of tiger is not a choice, it is an imperative. We have been facing a lot of challenges from poaching in India. Tiger conservation is a collective responsibility of government of India and states. I also compliment state governments for their efforts," said Modi.
"I believe tiger conservation or conservation of nature is not a drag on development. Both can happen in mutually complementary manner. As a country having more than 70 percent of global tiger population, India is committed to complement initiatives of other Tiger Range Countries," he added.
More than 700 conservation experts, ministers and senior officials from 15 Tiger Range countries are gathered here for the conference.