In 1973, the Government of India launched Project Tiger, a comprehensive conservation project aimed at protecting the nation’s tiger population and preserving biodiversity. Over the past fifty years, Project Tiger has achieved remarkable success, with India currently harboring almost 75% of the world’s wild tiger population. On Global Tiger Day, 29th July 2023, Minister of State for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Ashwini Kumar, released a comprehensive report revealing India’s tiger population estimate of 3,925, with an annual growth rate of 6.1%.
I. Project Tiger’s Success and Evolution:
- Project Tiger was initiated in 1973, initially covering nine tiger reserves spanning 18,278 km2. It has now expanded to 53 reserves spread across 75,796 km2, effectively covering 2.3% of India’s total land area.
- The first phase of tiger conservation focused on enacting the Wildlife Protection Act and establishing protected areas, while the second phase in 2005 adopted a landscape-level approach, community involvement, strict law enforcement, and scientific monitoring.
II. The Growth of India’s Tiger Population:
- In 2022, during the celebration of 50 years of Project Tiger, the Hon’ble Prime Minister declared the minimum tiger population estimate of 3,167 from the camera-trapped area.
- Further analysis of data by the Wildlife Institute of India, considering both camera-trapped and non-camera-trapped tiger presence areas, resulted in an estimated tiger population of 3,925 with an annual growth rate of 6.1% per annum.
- Notably, Central India and the Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains saw significant increases in tiger population, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Maharashtra. However, certain regions, like the Western Ghats, experienced localized declines, requiring targeted conservation efforts.
III. States with Largest Tiger Populations
IV. Tiger Reserve Abundance
|Tiger Reserve||Tiger Population|
V. Conservation Challenges and Measures:
- Approximately 35% of tiger reserves urgently require enhanced protection measures, habitat restoration, ungulate augmentation, and subsequent tiger reintroduction.
- Challenges like poaching continue to pose a threat to tiger conservation.
- To preserve ecological integrity, eco-friendly development, minimizing mining impacts, and addressing human-wildlife conflict are crucial steps.
- Fortifying protected area management and intensifying anti-poaching measures are essential for the future of India’s tigers and their ecosystems.