Project Tiger: History, Objectives and Management

Project Tiger is a tiger preservation initiative started by the Indian government in April 1973, under the leadership of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It seeks to maintain a healthy population of Bengal tigers in their native habitats, save them from extinction, and conserve biologically significant places as a natural legacy that reflects the diversity of ecosystems found throughout the tiger’s range in the nation.

The task team for the initiative envisioned these tiger reserves as breeding centres from which extra tigers would disperse to neighbouring forests. Money and dedication were raised to support the project’s aggressive habitat conservation and recovery programme.

The Indira Gandhi administration initiated Project Tiger in 1973 from the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. It is important to note that the tiger is a globally threatened species. The number of tigers in India at the turn of the 20th century ranged from 20,000 to 40,000.

The population significantly decreased to approximately 1820 in the 1970s due to poaching, the Maharajas and the British’s hunting, and other factors. In addition, the lack of available prey for these wild cats contributes to the decline of the population.

For the conservation and preservation of various flora and fauna species, the government approved the Wildlife Protection Act in 1972.

Eventually, the ambitious Project Tiger was started in 1973 to boost the tiger population in the nation. At the beginning of this endeavour, India only had nine tiger reserves. There are currently 53 such reserves spread across 18 states in India that are home to tigers. The Melghta and the Kanha national parks were the first reserves to be included in Project Tiger. Currently, the project covers more than 2% of the country’s total land.

Objectives of the Project

The major goals of Project Tiger are to:

  • Reduce the causes of habitat loss for tigers and take appropriate management measures to counteract them. 
  • To the greatest degree, habitat degradation must be repaired to allow ecosystem recovery.
  • Maintain a healthy tiger population for environmental, scientific, cultural, and aesthetic reasons.
  • M-STrIPES, a monitoring system, was created to help patrol and safeguard tiger habitats. Forest guards may enter sightings, events, and changes while patrolling, drawing out patrol routes.
  • By analyzing these facts, it is possible to create protocols that allow management options to be modified according to these facts.

Management of the Tiger Reserves

The country’s several tiger reserves were established using the “core-buffer” strategy:

Core area 

  • There are no human activities allowed in the core zones. It possesses the same legal standing as a national park or wildlife refuge. 
  • In addition, Biotic disturbances are kept to a minimum, and grazing, other human disturbances, and limited forestry operations are prohibited inside.

Buffer zones

  • The buffer zones are subject to “land use that emphasizes conservation.” Both forest and non-forest land are included.
  • Moreover, it is a multi-use area with the dual goals of supplementing the habitat for wild animal populations that spill over from the core conservation unit and providing site-specific co-developmental inputs to neighbouring settlements to lessen their influence on the core area.