The Government of India launched the Project Tiger with the aim of saving the steadily declining population of tigers in India on 1 April 1973. This article gives information of the background for launching this project as well as shares the objectives and working methodology of this project.
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Project Tiger is an important topic for the environment and ecology section of the UPSC exam. In this edition of This Day in History, you can read all about this project and its impact on the population and conservation of tigers in India.
- Project Tiger was launched by the Indira Gandhi government in 1973 from the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.
- The tiger is an endangered species in the world. At the turn of the 20th century, India had a population of tigers that ranged from 20000 to 40000. Due to the hunting practices of the Maharajas and the British, as well as poaching activities, their number had dwindled drastically to about 1820 in the seventies. Another reason for the sinking population is the scarcity of prey for these wild cats.
- The government passed the Wildlife Protection Act in 1972 for the protection and preservation of different species of flora and fauna.
- In 1973, the Project Tiger was launched with an ambitious aim of increasing the population of the tiger (scientific name: Panthera tigris) in the country.
- In the initial years of this project, there were only nine tiger reserves in India. At present, there are 47 such reserves located in 18 tiger range states of India.
- The initial reserves covered under Project Tiger were the Jim Corbett, Manas, Ranthambore, Simlipal, Bandipur, Palamau, Sundarbans, Melghta and Kanha national parks.
- At present, a little more than 2% of the country’s area is covered under the Project.
Project Tiger – Objectives & Working methodology
- The chief objectives of the project are:
- Reduce factors that cause the diminishing of tiger habitats and manage them.
- Ensure a viable tiger population for scientific, ecological, economic, aesthetic and cultural values.
- The administrating body for the project is the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The NTCA was formed in 2005 as per the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force. Under the organisation, there are eight Conservations Units each headed by a director who is responsible for his/her reserve area.
- The Conservation Units are:
- Sundarbans Conservation Unit
- Northeast Conservation Unit
- Western Ghats Conservation Unit
- Shivalik-Terai Conservation Unit
- Eastern Ghats Conservation Unit
- Sariska Conservation Unit
- Central India Conservation Unit
- Kaziranga Conservation Unit
- The reserves are created and functioned on a core/buffer strategy. That is, the core areas have the legal status of a national park or sanctuary in India. The buffer areas form the peripheral region and are a combination of forest and non-forest lands. The project purposes of adopting an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas and an inclusive people-centric approach in the buffer regions.
- The project, apart from preserving the habitats of the tigers in their ecological purity, also does the job of conducting tiger census in the country. It also combats poaching.
- During the 12th Plan, the budget had allocated Rs.1245 crore for Project Tiger. It is a central government-sponsored scheme.
- Assistance is also given to the states to protect tigers in the respective states. In India, tigers are present in 19 states.
- States maintain the Special Tiger Protection Force to protect tigers in the reserves.
- The project is in the process of creating a national database of individual tigers with photos so that seized body parts or dead tigers can be traced.
- The Monitoring System for Tigers – Intensive Protection and Ecological Status, or M-STrIPES was launched in 2010 and is a software-based monitoring system for tigers.
- Information technology is used to keep a tab on the number of tigers. The e-Eye system was launched in 2016 at Corbett, which uses thermal cameras for enhanced surveillance.
- The project is working towards eliminating all human activities from the core areas. In the buffer areas, it is working towards minimising tiger-human conflicts.
- Wildlife research is also carried out under the project and this includes flora and fauna assessment and monitoring of changes in them in the tiger habitats.
- The Forest Rights Act was passed in 2006, which recognised the rights of certain forest-dwelling communities. This could be problematic for the population of tigers in that it could increase tiger-human contact.
- Poaching is a big menace in India. Tigers are especially vulnerable because tiger skin is in huge demand in the international black market. Tiger claws and other parts are also in demand. Most of the remains end up in China.
- The project has brought about significant changes in the tiger population in the country. From 2010 to 2014, there has been a 30% rise in the number of tigers in India. At present, there are 2226 tigers in India, which is the highest in the world (about 70% of the tigers in the world are in India).
Also on this day
1889: Birth of K. B. Hedgewar, founder of the RSS.
1935: The Reserve Bank of India was formed.
1936: Odisha was formed as a separate province and this day is observed as Odisha Day/Odisha Divas/Utkal Divas.
1937: Birth of former Vice President of India, Mohammad Hamid Ansari.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.
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