Project Tiger 1973


Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in April 1973 by the Government of India during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's tenure.


Importance: PRELIMS

Context: Critical Importance was laid on the conservation of tiger in the 13th Webinar Series of Dekho Apna Desh and consequently Project Tiger came into light.

Project Tiger 1973

What you need to know about Project Tiger?

Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in April 1973 by the Government of India during Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s tenure.

AIM: The project aims at ensuring a viable population of Bengal tigers in their natural habitats, protecting them from extinction, and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage. Other objectives being :

  • Reduce factors that lead to the depletion of tiger habitats and to mitigate them by suitable management. The damages done to the habitat shall be rectified so to facilitate the recovery of the ecosystem to the maximum possible extent.
  • Ensure a viable tiger population for economic, scientific, cultural, aesthetic and ecological values.

The monitoring system M-STrIPES was developed to assist patrol and protection of tiger habitats. It maps patrol routes and allows forest guards to enter sightings, events and changes when patrolling.

Management of the Project

Project Tiger was administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The various tiger reserves were created in the country based on the ‘core-buffer’ strategy.

The Core-Buffer Strategy

  • Core area: The core areas are the areas which are free of all human activities. Also, it has the legal status of a national park or wildlife sanctuary and is kept free of biotic disturbances and forestry operations like collection of minor forest produce, grazing, and other human disturbances are not allowed within.
  • Buffer areas: The buffer areas are subjected to ‘conservation-oriented land use’. They comprise both forest and non-forest land. It is a multi-purpose use area with twin objectives of providing habitat supplement to spillover population of wild animals from core conservation unit and to provide site specific co-developmental inputs to surrounding villages for relieving their impact on core area.

The important thrust areas for the Plan period are:

  • Stepped up protection/networking surveillance.
  • Voluntary relocation of people from core/critical tiger habitat to provide inviolate space for tiger.
  • Use of information technology in wildlife crime prevention.
  • Addressing human wildlife conflicts.
  • Capacity building of frontier personnel.
  • Developing a national repository of camera trap tiger photographs with IDs.
  • Strengthening the regional offices of the NTCA.
  • Declaring and consolidating new tiger reserves.
  • Foresting awareness for eliciting new tiger reserves.
  • Foresting Research.

Progress with time

  • By the late 1980s, the initial nine reserves covering an area of 9,115 square kilometers (3,519 square miles) had been increased to 15 reserves covering an area of 24,700 km2 (9,500 sq mi).
  • More than 1100 tigers were estimated to inhabit the reserves by 1984.
  • By 1997, 23 tiger reserves encompassed an area of 33,000 km2 (13,000 sq mi).

Although, there was a incremental progress, the fate of tiger habitat outside the reserves was precarious, due to pressure on habitat, incessant poaching and large-scale development projects such as dams, industry and mines.

Controversies associated with Project Tiger

The efforts of the Project Tiger were obstructed by poaching, as well as debacles and irregularities in Sariska and Namdapha, both of which were reported extensively in the Indian media.

The Forest Rights Act passed by the Indian government in 2006 recognizes the rights of some forest dwelling communities in forest areas. This has led to controversy over implications of such recognition for tiger conservation.

Distribution of Tigers across the Country

  • Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are home to nearly 35% of the tigers in India.
  • The state of Karnataka alone is home to 18% of the tigers in India.
  • The Northeast Indian states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura together with West Bengal account for 5% of the tiger population.
  • The state of Gujarat is the only state with 100% of Asiatic lion population in the world.

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