Project Tiger in India
Project Tiger is a wildlife conservation initiative launched by the Government of India on April 1, 1973, aimed at protecting the endangered Bengal tiger and its natural habitat, while also addressing the broader issues of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
The project was launched under the leadership of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who recognized the need for urgent action to protect India’s dwindling tiger population. The Bengal tiger, India’s national animal, faced numerous threats, including habitat loss, human encroachment, and poaching for its fur and body parts, which were in high demand in the illegal wildlife trade.
Project Tiger began with the establishment of nine tiger reserves across India, strategically chosen to represent a diverse range of ecosystems and encompass as many tiger populations as possible. These reserves, covering a total area of about 16,339 square miles, were designed to provide the tigers with a safe and protected environment where they could live and breed. The project employed a multi-pronged approach, focusing on habitat preservation, anti-poaching measures, and efforts to minimize human-tiger conflicts.
In addition to the conservation of tigers, Project Tiger has had a broader impact on preserving ecosystems and biodiversity in India. The tiger reserves established under the project serve as vital habitats for numerous other species, including endangered animals like the Indian rhinoceros and the Asiatic lion, as well as countless plants, birds, and insects.
Since its inception, Project Tiger has grown in scope and ambition, with the number of tiger reserves increasing to over 50 by the early 21st century. The project has had a measurable impact on tiger populations in India, with the numbers steadily increasing over the years. According to the 2018 tiger census, there were an estimated 2,967 tigers in India, up from just 1,411 in 2006.
Despite ongoing challenges, such as poaching and habitat loss, Project Tiger has been largely successful in protecting the Bengal tiger and its habitat. The initiative serves as a model for wildlife conservation efforts in other countries and has played a significant role in raising awareness about preserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable development.