PROJECT TIGER – 1973
Project Tiger, a Government of India initiative launched in April 1973 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi . It was started with the objective of conservation of our National animal -Tiger. The one of its kind project which marks tiger in the “endangered species” category. It’s aim was to maintain a viable tiger population in their natural habitats. Preventing poaching thus preserving the ecosystem across India inhabited by tigers as a natural heritage forever. It was led by Kailash Sankhala, first director of Project Tiger. This revolutionary movement is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change. Under this initiative, a Tiger task force was set up by the government to battle poaching. For reorganized management of Project Tiger, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), was established in December 2005. It is currently headed by the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javedkar as its Chairperson. It performs functions as provided in the Wildlife protection act, 1972.
Main Objectives of this project are:
- In order to help protect the ecosystem in its recovery and of natural habitats of the ecosystem in its original biological form.
- Contain the exhaustion of tiger habitats and their suitable management by reducing factors responsible for its depletion.
- For ecological, scientific, cultural and economical values, ensuring a viable tiger population.
To achieve the objectives of this project, a monitoring system was developed to provide assistance and protection of tiger natural habitats. This system is called as M-STrIPES (Monitoring system for Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status). It is a software-based monitoring system launched in 2010 by the NTCA . It enables a GPS supported data cag pturing of tiger sightings to the forest guards in the tiger reserves. M-STrIPES assits in capturing wildlife crimes against tigers. This information helps in adapting and managing decisions.
1973 Project Tiger – A Success
The pioneering initiative is considered as one of the most successful ones. During the 1970s, the tiger population in India was only 1200 nos., As per 4 yearly tiger official count, a significant increase in tiger population at 3000 nos. was reported in 2018. The increase in the tiger population has risen by 30% in the last 8 years. Since its inception in 1973 when 9 tiger reserves with an area of 915 sq. km came under the management plan. It went up to 15 reserves covering an area of 24700 sq. km by the late 1980s. In 2008, there were more than 40 core Project Tiger reserves across India covering an area over 37761 sq. km.
Potential Tiger Habitats across India
The creation of Project Tiger reserves across India was based on the strategy of core-buffer.
- Core or Critical tiger habitat is generally referred to as Wildlife sanctuary or a National park. This status gives the habitat more protection. It makes it free from any human activities and disturbances like tourism or forest produce. The core area has high animal density.
- Buffer or Peripheral tiger habitat refers to the area that lies in the periphery of the core zone.
As per Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, there are a total of 50 Project Tiger reserves across India. Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary was notified as to the 50th Tiger Reserve. Total area of 72749 sq. km (compiling both core and buffer tiger habitat) is covered by tiger reserves across India.
Potential Tiger Habitats can be listed as:
- Western Ghats Conservation Unit
- Eastern Ghats Conservation Unit
- Central Ghats Conservation Unit
- Sunderbans Conservation Unit
- North East Conservation Unit
- Sivalik-Terai Conservation Unit
- For the conservation and protection of tiger, The Government of India has taken legal, administrative and financial steps. NTCA has devised guidelines for Rewards to frontline staff for their extraordinary efforts in the field. On 19.02.2019 at 2nd Technical Committee of National Tiger Conservation Authority, Reward system was proposed by NTCA. Albeit stringent actions under the law are taken by the government to contain tiger extinction, tigers outside of these reserves are still under the danger of poaching. This poses a challenge in the protection of tigers under the project. Tiger, being an “umbrella species”, constitutes the top of the food chain. To keep the food chain running, maintain the ecological balance, it is mandatory for Project tiger to continue its success path.