Mrs. Indira Gandhi used to say "The tiger cannot be preserved in isolation. It is at the apex of a large and complex biotope. Its habitat, threatened by human intrusion, commercial forestry and cattle grazing, must first be made inviolate".
The tiger, India's national animal, is a symbol that is an intrinsic part of our culture. One of the earliest portrayals of the tiger in India is found in the Harappan seals from the Indus valley culture, dating back to 2500 BC, which depict an intricate association between people and tigers. India is one of the thirteen tiger range countries and has the largest number of source sites with wild tigers. The Indian government has always made Tiger protection a priority and Project Tiger, launched in the early seventies, has put the endangered tiger on a definite path to recovery.
Role of National Tiger Conservation Authority:
NTCA accomplished Key Milestones and Major achievements:
From nine tiger reserves in 1973, it expanded to 39 tiger reserves in 2010. In the early eighties, it undertook path breaking radio-telemetry study. The recent All India Tiger Estimation, using a peer reviewed internationally recognized scientific methodology, highlights the achievement of Project Tiger by showing that viable tiger population exists only in Project Tiger areas, while outside populations are highly depleted. Over the years, the Project envisioned a core-buffer-corridor strategy. While the core area of a tiger reserve is managed for wildlife conservation, the buffer is treated as a multiple use zone.
Project Tiger has saved the endangered tiger from extinction, and has put the species on an assured path to recovery by improving the protection and status of its habitat. The core buffer strategy of Project Tiger has provided scope for eliciting local public support through site specific eco-development in the buffer/fringe areas. The Project has contributed towards several intangible environmental benefits to society, such as absorption of carbon dioxide, improvement of micro climate, rainfall and river flow. The Project has generated considerable wages for the benefit of fringe dwelling communities, who are deployed as local work force for protection. While conserving the flagship species, the Project has saved several other species of plants and animals from extinction. The local communities are benefiting from eco-tourism apart from eco developmental inputs in fringe areas. The Project has served as a role model for wildlife management planning, habitat restoration, protection and eco-development. States have been provided funding support for enhancing protection through deployment of local work force, ex-army personnel. The field staff have been provided allowance as an incentive for working in difficult conditions. Independent monitoring of tiger reserves has been undertaken by a panel of experts, based on the framework of the World Commission of Protected Areas of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The All India Estimation of tiger, co-predators and prey animals has been refined by Project Tiger in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India, with a peer review mechanism comprising independent experts, both national and international (IUCN).