History of Project Tiger in India
Project Tiger in India was launched in 1973 and subsequently several tiger reserves were established as a part of its conservation strategy namely 'core-buffer strategy'. The core areas were freed from all types of human activities and the buffer areas were subjected to preservation oriented land use. Several management plans were drawn up for each tiger reserve that was based on certain principles.
During the period 1973-74, nine tiger reserves were established in different states of the country, by pooling the resources available with the Central and State Governments. These nine reserves covered an area of almost 13,017 sq km. These reserves were namely Manas Tiger Reserve (Assam), Palamau Tiger Reserve (Bihar), Similipal Tiger Reserve (Odisha), Corbett Tiger Reserve (Uttar Pradesh), Kanha Tiger Reserve (Madhya Pradesh), Melghat Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra), Bandipur Tiger Reserve (Karnataka), Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (Rajasthan) and Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (West Bengal). Project Tiger in India was launched as a 'Central Sector Scheme' with the full assistance of Central Government till 1979-80. However, later on it became a 'Centrally Sponsored Scheme' since 1980-81. The WWF has also given assistance in the form of equipments, expertise and literature.
Aims and Achievements of Project Tiger
The main achievements of Project Tiger in India include excellent recovery of the habitat and consequent increase in the tiger population in the reserve areas, from 268 in nine reserves in the year 1972 to 1576 in 27 reserves in the year 2003. Thus, Project Tiger is basically considered as 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 force was to expand the core and buffer regions in certain reserves, strengthening of defense and eco-development in the buffer zones of existing tiger reserves, formation of additional tiger reserves and reinforcement of the research activities. The management strategy of this project included the identification of the limiting factors and to lessen them by appropriate management. Further, the damages done to the habitat were to be rectified, so as to facilitate the recovery of eco-system to the maximum possible extent.
The overall administration of the project is monitored by a 'Steering Committee'. The implementation of the project is carried out by the respective State Government. A Field Director is appointed for each reserve. He is aided by field and technical personnel. Chief Wildlife wardens are responsible for field execution. In recent times, within the tiger reserves, wireless communication system and outstation patrol camps have been developed, as a result of which poaching has declined considerably.