Tiger: Project Tiger, launched in 1973-74, is one of
our most successful conservation ventures in the recent
times. The project aims at tiger conservation in specially
constituted 'tiger reserves', which are representative
of various bio-geographical regions falling within our
country. It strives to maintain a viable tiger population
in the natural environment.
estimate of the tiger population in India, at the turn
of the century, placed the figure at 40,000. Subsequently,
the first ever all India tiger census was conducted
in 1972 which revealed the existence of only 1827 tigers.
Various pressures in the later part of the last century
led to the progressive decline of wilderness, resulting
in the disturbance of viable tiger habitats. At the
IUCN General Assembly meeting in Delhi, in 1969, serious
concern was voiced about the threat to several species
of wildlife and the shrinkage of wilderness in the country.
In 1970, a national ban on tiger hunting was imposed
and in 1972 the Wildlife Protection Act came into force.
A 'Task Force' was then set up to formulate a project
for tiger conservation with an ecological approach.
project was launched in 1973, and various tiger reserves
were created in the country on a 'core-buffer' strategy.
The core areas were freed from all sorts of human activities
and the buffer areas were subjected to 'conservation
oriented land use'. Management plans were drawn up for
each tiger reserve, based on the principles outlined
1. Elimination of all forms of human exploitation and
biotic disturbance from the core area and rationalization
of activities in the buffer zone.
2. Restricting the habitat management only to repair
the damages done to the eco-system by human and other
interferences, so as to facilitate recovery of the eco-system
to its natural state.
3. Monitoring the faunal and floral changes over time
and carrying out research about wildlife.
Initially, 9 tiger reserves were established in different
States during the period 1973-74, by pooling the resources
available with the Central and State Governments. These
nine reserves covered an area of about 13,017sq.km-viz
Manas (Assam), Palamau (Bihar), Similipal (Orissa),
Corbett (U.P.), Kanha (M.P.), Melghat (Maharashtra),
Bandipur (Karnataka), Ranthambhore (Rajasthan) and Sunderbans
project started as a 'Central Sector Scheme' with the
full assistance of Central Government till 1979-80:
later, it become a 'centrally Sponsored Scheme' from
1980-81, with equal sharing of expenditure between the
center and the states.
W.W.F. has given an assistance of US $ 1 million in
the form of equipments, expertise and literature. The
various States are also bearing the loss on account
of giving up the forestry operations in the reserves.
main achievements of this project are excellent recovery
of the habitat and consequent increase in the tiger
population in the reserve areas, from a mere 268 in
9 reserves in 1972 to 1576 in 27 reserves in 2003. Tiger,
being at the apex of the food chain, can be considered
as the indicator of the stability of the eco-system.
For a viable tiger population, a habitat should possess
a good prey base, which in turn will depend on an undisturbed
forest vegetation. Thus, 'Project Tiger', is basically
the conservation of the entire eco-system and apart
from tigers, all other wild animals also have increased
in number in the project areas. In the subsequent 'Five
Year Plans', the main thrust was to enlarge the core
and buffer zones in certain reserves, intensification
of protection and ecodevelopment in the buffer zones
of existing tiger reserves, creation of additional tiger
reserves and strengthening of the research activities.
The management strategy was to identify the limiting
factors and to mitigate them by suitable management.
The damages done to the habitat were to be rectified,
so as to facilitate the recovery of eco-system to the
maximum possible extent. Management practices which
tend to push the wildlife populations beyond the carrying
capacity of the habitat were carefully avoided. A minimum
core of 300 sq. km. with a sizeable buffer was recommended
for each project area. The overall administration of
the project is monitored by a 'Steering Committee'.
The execution of the project is done by the respective
State Governments. A 'Field Director' is appointed for
each reserve, who is assisted by the field and technical
personnel. The Chief Wildlife warden in various States
are responsible for the field execution. At the Centre,
a full-fledged 'Director' of the project coordinates
the work for the country.
Wireless communication system and outstation patrol
camps have been developed within the tiger reserves,
due to which poaching has declined considerably. Fire
protection is effectively done by suitable preventive
and control measure Voluntory Village relocation has
been done in many reserves, especially from the core,
area. In Kanha, Bandipur and Ranthambhore, all the villages
have been shifted from the core, and after relocation,
the villagers have been provided with alternate agricultural
lands and other community benefits. This has resulted
in the improvement of the carrying capacity of the habitat.
Live stock grazing has been controlled to a great extent
in the tiger reserves. Various compensatory developmental
works have improved the water regime and the ground
and field level vegetations, thereby increasing the
animal density. Research data pertaining to vegetational
changes are also available from many reserves. In general,
the 'restorative management' and 'intense protection'
under 'Project Tiger' have saved many of our eco-typical
areas from destruction. The area around the buffer is
now contemplated as a zone of multiple use, to bring
compatibility between the reserves and the neighbouring
a) Use of Information and Communication technology in
Wildlife Protection and Crime Risk Management in Tiger
Wildlife protection and crime risk management in the
present scenario requires a widely distributed Information
Network, using the state-of-art Information and Communication
Technology. This becomes all the more important to ensure
the desired level of protection in field formations
to safeguard the impressive gains of a focused project
like 'Project Tiger'. The important elements in Wildlife
protection and control are: Mapping/plotting the relative
spatial abundance of wild animals, identification of
risk factors, proximity to risk factors, sensitivity
categorization, crime mapping and immediate action for
apprehending the offenders based on effective networking
and communication. Space technology has shown the interconnectivity
of natural and anthropogenic phenomena occurring anywhere
on earth. Several Tiger Reserves are being linked with
the Project Tiger Directorate in the GIS domain for
Wildlife Crime Risk Management.
b) GIS based digitized database and MIS development/networking in Tiger Reserves:
With the advanced IT tools, a wide gamut of software
solutions are available to improve wildlife related
information capture process, its analysis and informed
decision making. Geographic Information System is the
most relevant of these technologies for natural resource
management projects, including wildlife management.
The mandate of project tiger is to conserve tigers in
a holistic manner. The GIS based database at PTHQ is
being linked with the microcomputers in the Tiger Reserves,
so that a dynamic linkage for rapid information flow
is established using Arc IMS facility.
c) Tiger Habitat & Population Evaluation System
for the Indian Sub Continent
A 'Tiger Atlas of India' and a 'Tiger Habitat &
Population Evaluation System for the country is being
developed using the state- of - the - art technology.
1. Mapping , data acquisition and GIS modeling
2. Field data collection and validation
3. Data Maintenance , Dissemination and Use
The following potential tiger habitats in the country
are being covered:
>Shivalik-Terai Conservation Unit(Uttaranchal, UP,
Bihar, West Bengal, Nepal)
>Nort east Conservation Unit
>Sunderbans Conservation Unit
>Central Indian Conservation Unit
>Eastern Ghat Conservation Unit
>Western Ghat Conservation Unit
Satellite data is being used and classified into vegetation
and land use maps on a 1:50,000 scale, with digitized
data relating to contour , villages, roads , drainage
, administrative boundaries and soil . The spatial layers
would be attached with attribute data , viz. human population
, livestock population , meteorological data, agricultural
information and field data pertaining to wildlife, habitat
for evolving regional protocols to monitor tiger and
For the Future
dynamics of forest management and wildlife conservation
have been distorted due to need for income, lack of
awareness, lack of landuse policy and population pressure.
Since the traditional use systems of people are neither
static nor benign, these should not be overlooked.
regional development approach in landscapes having Tiger
Reserves is of utmost importance in our country. It
should be viewed as a mosaic of different landuse patterns,
viz, tiger conservation / preservation, forestry, sustainable
use and development, besides socio-economic growth.
habitats exist in environments of thousands of indigenous
communities which depend on them. Therefore we cannot
view these protected areas in isolation from the surrounding
socio-economic realities and developmental priorities
of the Govt. This calls for a cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary
now need a "preservationist" approach. Regional
planning is important around Tiger Reserves to foster
ecological connectivity between protected areas through
restorative inputs with integrated landuse planning.
The management plan of a Tiger Reserve, therefore, needs
to be integrated in larger regional management plans.