Project Tiger India - Save the Tiger Initiative

Project Tiger


Important Details about Project Tiger

Introduction of Project Tiger in India: 1973

Protected area under Project Tiger in India: approximately 71,000 sq. km

The population of the Royal Bengal Tiger in India: around 3000 individuals

IUCN Status of the Royal Bengal Tiger: Endangered

Global Tiger Population: around 5500 individual

Country homes where the tiger is found: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Russia, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam

Scientific Name: Panthera Tigris


The biggest wild cat species in the world, easily identified by its reddish-orange coat with black stripes, may weigh up to 300 kg, while the Siberian or Amur Tiger can reach up to 320 kg.

A whack from a Tiger’s front hand may kill or severely damage the bones of an animal or a person or an animal. They are lone predators who hunt by quietly approaching their target covertly from a distance of up to 10 meters before they are likely to be successful in their attempt.

Despite their size, tigers are capable of sprinting at above 60 kmph. They are incredibly athletic animals that can jump more than 20 feet in one leap.

Considering their size, they require home ranges that span from 30 to 150 square kilometers, depending on the subspecies. Male tigers often occupy a vast territory, which they attempt to protect against other male tigers attempting to take over or establish their own territory in an effort to win over the female tigers that live there.

Their desire for a home forces them to interact with humans and sometimes results in violence like livestock hunting and sporadic human attacks.

Given tigers’ obvious superiority in size and power would avoid human interaction and may even flee from a single person if their paths happen to cross, which is a fairly intriguing fact. Because of this, they identify with “The Gentleman of the Jungle”.

Although everyday conflicts between tigers and people are unavoidable in a country with as large a population as India, there are very few attacks on humans in the 50 Indian Tiger Reserves.

Compensation payments to the victims of livestock deaths that occur outside of national park limits make a guarantee that local opposition to tigers does not become unmanageable.

A tigress is capable of bearing up to five kids; nevertheless, it is exceedingly uncommon for tigers to give birth to five cubs; just a few examples have been documented in Central India. Tragically, only a small percentage of tiger cubs survive from birth and are blind. The newborn cubs have no sense of sight; they can only follow their mother’s scent. Most of them perish from cold or starvation since they are born blind and unable to keep up.

Unlike lions, they are woodland animals and do not frequently go into the open. In such an environment, their stripes provide helpful concealment.

Upon being separated from their mother’s care after approximately 18 to 22 months, young male tigers are likely to cover a reasonable distance to discover new territories. In addition, they may have to make extremely dangerous treks over 200 km through rural and urban areas to find new forest areas and fight for territory because they will be up against older, likely larger male tigers in their prime. In India, there are insufficiently linked forest corridors, which poses a significant risk to the lives of those who come across it.

India’s ancient Hindu and tribal cultures revere the tiger, which is both feared and worshipped by them. However as development strategies become more and more substantial, Project Tiger’s long-term success is erratic.

Project Tiger India

India is home to a rich and diverse wildlife population, and one of its most iconic and endangered species is the Royal Bengal Tiger. To safeguard this magnificent big cat and its habitat, the Indian government launched Project Tiger in 1973. This ambitious conservation initiative has made significant strides in protecting tigers, ensuring their survival for future generations. In this article, we delve into the history, objectives, achievements, and ongoing efforts of Project Tiger, shedding light on the challenges faced and the crucial role it plays in preserving India’s natural heritage.

The Birth of Project Tiger:

The alarming decline in the tiger population during the early 20th century prompted the launch of Project Tiger. Recognizing the urgent need for conservation, the Indian government established this initiative under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The primary objective was to protect the dwindling tiger population and their natural habitats.

Project Tiger Map - Conservation in India

Objectives of Project Tiger:

The core objectives of Project Tiger encompass both the conservation of tigers and the preservation of their habitats.

These objectives include:

  • Ensuring a viable population of tigers for ecological balance.
  • Protecting tiger habitats from degradation and fragmentation.
  • Addressing the needs of local communities living in and around tiger reserves.
  • Providing an opportunity for visitors to experience and appreciate these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

Tiger Reserves in India:

Under Project Tiger, dedicated tiger reserves were established across India. These reserves serve as protected areas where tigers can thrive undisturbed. Today, India boasts over 50 tiger reserves, covering a vast expanse of diverse ecosystems. Some of the well-known tiger reserves include Jim Corbett National Park, Bandipur National Park, Ranthambore National Park, and Sundarbans National Park.

Conservation Strategies:

Project Tiger employs various conservation strategies to achieve its objectives. These strategies involve a combination of habitat preservation, anti-poaching measures, community participation, and scientific research. By preserving tiger habitats and curbing poaching activities, the initiative aims to create a safe environment for tigers to breed and flourish.

Success Stories and Achievements:

Over the years, Project Tiger has showcased remarkable success in its conservation efforts.

The project’s notable achievements include:

  • Tiger population recovery: From a mere 1,411 tigers in 2006, India’s tiger population has significantly increased to approximately 3,000 in recent years.
  • Habitat preservation: Project Tiger has played a crucial role in safeguarding tiger habitats, protecting them from encroachment, deforestation, and other forms of habitat degradation.
  • Local community involvement: The initiative promotes sustainable livelihoods for local communities, ensuring their active participation in conservation efforts and reducing their dependence on forest resources.
  • Enhanced anti-poaching measures: Project Tiger has strengthened anti-poaching efforts, leading to a decline in the illegal wildlife trade and an increase in tiger protection.

Challenges and Ongoing Efforts:

While Project Tiger has made impressive progress, several challenges persist. Encroachment, habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflicts continue to pose threats to tiger conservation.

To address these challenges, ongoing efforts include:

  • Strengthening enforcement: Project Tiger emphasizes the importance of stricter law enforcement to combat poaching and other illegal activities.
  • Mitigating human-wildlife conflicts: By implementing measures such as providing alternative livelihood options and creating buffer zones, Project Tiger aims to reduce conflicts between humans and tigers.
  • Awareness and education: The initiative focuses on raising awareness among local communities, tourists, and the general public about the significance of tiger conservation.


They have an additional and crucial sensory tool in the form of their WHISKERS, which allow them to detect motion and the presence of other animals.

There is a noticeable space between their MOLARS and CANINES, allowing them to hold their victim tightly while choking it to death.

They can leap up to 30 feet in a stride and have a spring in their step because of their LARGE HIND LEGS.

As the tiger makes its way through the dense jungle, its orange coat and black stripes—which are caused by sunlight penetrating through—help break up the tree shadows. In the grasslands, it is also useful for stalking.

They can detect the presence of other Tigers by their scent, scat, and urine. They also have an OLFACTORY GLAND, also referred to as the JACOBSON’S ORGAN, around the palate of their mouth.

Their BOTTOM JAW can only move up and down, not side to side, allowing them to strengthen their firm grip on the animal that is inside their grasp. Their JAW MUSCLES are directly linked to the top of their heads.

As their CLAW IS RETRACTABLE, they may use them judiciously and help them maintain their edge.


Currently, India is home to over 75% of all wild tigers worldwide. The level of transparency in the estimating process and the commitment to the Conserving the Tiger effort in India are exceptional.

Based on the data gathered and the quantity of Tigers shot for sport, an earlier estimate suggested that there could have been as many as 50,000 Tigers in India alone at the start of the 20th century. By the 1960s, India’s wildlife had reached a critical point due to ongoing hunting, poaching, and habitat loss, which had severely reduced the species’ numbers. They were almost completely eradicated and treated like pests.

Roughly in the year 1970, a group of researchers and conservationists exerted consistent pressure on the Indian government. Renowned conservationist Dr. Kailash Sankhla personally appealed to then-prime minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi, who demonstrated empathy and understanding for the need to preserve India’s natural heritage, which is the country’s oldest legacy.

As a result, the Wildlife Protection Act was drafted in 1972, effectively ending all hunting in India and providing legal protection for some species.

Following this, in 1973, Project Tiger was headed by Dr. Kailash Sankhia, who was named the first director of the initiative in India. And, the goals of Project Tiger, 1973 are to prevent the extinction of Bengal tigers, maintain a healthy population of these animals in their native habitats, and save biologically significant places as a part of the natural legacy.

The first tiger reserve in India was the Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand. Under the auspices of Project Tiger, an additional 8 Tiger Reserves were created, including around 9115 square kilometres of forested area.

Although a significant increase from its early days, this number of 71,000 sq. km. still represents insufficient forest cover for a developing nation like India with such a stunning and rich Natural Heritage.

Currently, India has 51 Tiger Reserves that have been built and are located in 18 tiger range states of India.

NTCA - National Tiger Conservation Authority

As per the 2006 amendment to, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is the highest authority responsible for overseeing Project Tiger’s powers and duties. These are guidelines as per Section 380 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

  • To accept the state governments’ individual tiger conservation plans.
  • To examine and appraise the many facets of sustainable ecology. prohibiting the use of land within Tiger Reserves for unsustainable ventures like mining, industry, and other such endeavours.
  • The NTCA is responsible for establishing the standards and guidelines for tourism within the Tiger Reserves. It includes both those in the Tiger Reserve’s Core and Buffer Area.
  • To focus on dealing with situations of unavoidable Human-Animal Conflict. Ensuring that appropriate procedures are set up in the vicinity of the National Parks, Sanctuaries, or Tiger Reserves to facilitate coexistence in the vicinity of forested regions
  • To offer details on the Future Conservation Plan, disease surveillance, mortality surveys, habitat status, patrolling, reports on any untoward events, estimation of the tiger population and its natural prey species, estimation of the population, and such management aspects as deemed appropriate in the Future Conservation Plan.
  • To authorise and oversee research and monitoring relating to the ecological elements of the Tiger Prey and habitat, as well as relevant ecological and socioeconomic indicators as well as their assessment.
  • To guarantee that, without a clear public interest and with permission from the National Board for Wildlife and the NTCA’s advice, Tiger Reserves and areas connecting protected areas are not diverted for ecologically unsustainable usage.
  • To ensure the vital assistance for the best possible execution of the Future Conservation Plan, including scientific, information technology, and legal support.
  • To assure the training and development of Tiger Reserve officers and staff via capacity-building programs
  • To carry out additional tasks necessary to fulfill the project’s objectives for safeguarding tigers and their habitat.


Every Tiger Reserve has two regions:

  • Core Area/Critical Tiger Habitat
  • Buffer Area


Core Area/Critical Tiger Habitat

This is a crucial habitat for surviving tigers and their prey species, which can sustain or support tigers in the landscape because of favourable ecological circumstances that can improve the habitat that now exists and guarantee the species’ long-term survival.


Here, human activity is only allowed when it pertains to conservation or park management. It is forbidden to do routine tasks like grazing, gathering wood, and using forest products.

Although tourism is allowed, only up to 20% of the Core Area may be used for wildlife tourism, under NTCA standards.


These regions are typically designated as National Parks or Wildlife Sanctuary by the law.


Buffer Area


The designated regions that border or surround the Core Area have been designated as Buffer regions. These are either freshly developed animal habitats or the periphery of the Core that naturally extends beyond the boundaries of the designated Core Area.


Nevertheless, for the benefit of the people’s means of subsistence, certain activities are allowed, such as cattle grazing, restricted firewood gathering, and minimum usage of forest products.


In Tiger Reserves, patrolling camps and forest checkposts have been thoughtfully placed in the Core and Buffer Areas to reduce the risk of poaching, maintain reserve management, and provide quick response in the event of an emergency.


Village Relocation


The continuous Village Relocation Programs in Tiger Reserves, which have been running since 1973, have been among the most challenging and monumental of all projects.


One of the main challenges in effectively establishing and managing Tiger Reserves throughout India, apart from lowering the threat of poaching and protecting the environment, has been the voluntary migration of people and communities.


Numerous communities were and still are located in both the newly identified Critical Tiger Habitats for the potential creation of Tiger Reserves as well as the recognized Critical Tiger Habitats in India. The necessity of making the locals aware of the advantages of leaving their current residences in the Tiger Reserve. The government offers aid in the form of financial or geographical compensation in addition to logistical support.


Of the 50 Tiger Reserves, 56,247 families from 751 villages have been designated for relocation; of these, 12,327 households from 173 villages have been effectively moved outside of these regions.


This endeavour will undoubtedly need a herculean effort due to the difficulty of human rights, political pressure, and vested interest groups; nonetheless, Project Tiger has made several strides forward because of the vigilance of the different Forest Departments and reasonably excellent governance standards.


2005 saw the inclusion of a need for increased surveillance and an extra layer of security due to widespread poaching and the development of robust poaching networks by smugglers within India.


The Tiger Task Force was established by Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh to improve the conservation of the country’s national animal after the media and grassroots conservationists revealed the dramatic situation of the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, where tigers had abruptly vanished. 


The Tiger Task Force established the following guidelines for each of the nation’s Tiger Reserves:

  • examining the many issues with tiger conservation and making recommendations for ways to make it better
  • improving techniques for stopping illicit activities carried out in wildlife sanctuaries, such as tiger poaching, capturing, and killing.
  • spreading awareness of tiger conservation and habitat preservation among the native population living in the Reserves.
  • To make the Tiger counting and forecasting process better.

Our Take

Project Tiger, was launched in 1973 by the government of India as a pioneering initiative. The aim was to protect and conserve the depleting numbers of the Indian National animal. Today, the number of tiger reserves has reached 50 from 9 tiger reserves. Though, in the formative years, spread across 18 tiger range states.

Under the project attention was paid to the below points:

  • Tiger protection and launch antipoaching operations
  • Increase tiger reserves and manage tiger movement in the human-dominated area

Efforts have reaped benefits as India now has the highest number of tigers in the world. The country-level tiger assessment in 2014 has also shown a 30% increase of tigers in the country i.e. from 1706 to 3167. Read Source.

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