Tigers are a symbol of all that is splendid, mystical and powerful about nature. Loss of tigers means loss of cultural and spiritual values that connects human beings with the wild world. Of the original nine sub-species of tigers, three have become extinct in the last eighty years; an average of one every twenty years. Poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation have reduced the global population of tigers from over 100,000 in the 1900�s, to less than 4000 in the 1970�s. Today four of the remaining sub-species of tigers are considered endangered by the IUCN, while two of the sub-species are considered �critically endangered�. The total number of all the wild populations of the six remaining sub-species of tigers (Bengal, Indochinese, Malayan, Siberian, South China, and Sumatran) are estimated to be between 3,000 to 3600 tigers.
The government of India has taken a pioneering initiative for conserving its national animal by launching the �Project Tiger� in 1973. From nine tiger reserves since its formative years the project tiger coverage has increased to 47 at present, spread out in 18 of our tiger range states (Total area 13,017 sq. Km).
A task force was set up to look into the problems of tiger conservation in the country. The said task has the following recommendations;
Considering the urgency of the situation project tiger has been converted into the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) by providing enabling provisions in the wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 through an amendment, viz. Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act 2006. The main objectives of NTCA is; providing statutory authority to project tiger, promoting accountability of Center-State in management of Tiger Reserves, by providing a basis for MoU with states within our federal structure, providing for an oversight by parliament, addressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger Reserves.
The following activities come under NTCA;
Approving the tiger conservation plan prepared by the state government under sub-section (3) of section 38V of this Act.
Evaluating and assessing various aspects of sustainable ecology and disallowing any ecologically unsustainable land use (mining, industry etc.) within the tiger reserves. Providing information on protective measures, including future conservation plan, estimation of population of tiger and its natural prey species, status of habitats, disease surveillance, mortality survey, patrolling, reports on untoward happenings.
Provide for management focus and measures for addressing conflicts of men and wild animal and to emphasize on co-existence in forest areas outside the National Parks, sanctuaries or tiger reserve, in the working plan code;
Approve, coordinate research and monitoring on tiger, co-predators, prey habitat, related ecological and socioeconomic parameters and their evaluation;
Facilitate and support the tiger reserve management in the State for biodiversity conservation initiatives through eco-development and people�s participation as per approved management plans and to support similar initiatives in adjoining areas consistent with the Central and State laws;
Lay down normative standards for tourism activities and guidelines for project tiger from time to time for tiger conservation in the buffer and core area of tiger reserves and ensure their due compliance;
Ensure critical support including scientific, information technology and legal support for better implementation of the tiger conservation plan;
Ensure that the tiger reserves and areas linking one protected area or tiger reserve with another protected area or tiger reserve are not diverted for ecologically unsustainable uses, except in the public interest and with the approval of the National Board for Wild Life and on the advice of the Tiger Conservation Authority;
Facilitate ongoing capacity building program for skill development of officers and staff of tiger reserves, and perform such other functions as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act with regard to the conservation of tigers and their habitat.
Tigers are important because they protect genetic diversity, brings rain, prevent climate change and last but not the least tiger is a symbol of our National pride.