PROJECT TIGER IN INDIA
India contains 60% of the world’s tigers; as recently as 1970 it was still legal to hunt them and to export skins. During the 1950s and early 1960s it is recorded that more than 3,000 tigers lost their lives to trophy hunters, most of these being tourists.
Aims of Project Tiger:
Thanks in no small part to the efforts of conservation-minded Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, India’s national emblem was eventually declared a protected animal.
Project Tiger was formed in 1972 and launched on the 1st April 1973 at Corbett National Park. It’s aims were:
o To ensure maintenance of a viable population of tigers in India for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural and ecological values.
o To preserve, for all times, areas of such biological importance as a national heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people.
With the co-operation of the Indian Government, Project Tiger initially established 9 reserves, across different ecosystems. These were devoted specifically to saving the tiger and eliminating those factors which were contributing to the decline of the tiger:
loss of prey.
competition with local villagers and domestic animals.
The initial reserves were:
An unpopular move:
It is a little-known fact that the period prior to the official ban on shooting, and the implementation of Project Tiger, was one of the worst-ever for tigers. It seems everyone wanted to bag a trophy before the law changed and prevented them doing so.
Few conservation programmes are ever popular at the beginning. They cost money, impose unwanted restrictions, often interfere with the plans of big business, and show no economic gain to offset any of this.
The first tiger reserves:
The selected areas had to meet various criteria before inclusion into the scheme:
• Had experienced little disturbance.
• High development potential in that the number of animals, both prey and predator, was high.
• No drilling, mining, or timber harvesting ventures.
• Were in different States so that responsibility for management could be evenly distributed.
Madhu, Student Representative, The Eco club