Tiger is the most charismatic and ferocious wild cat and the national animal of India. Tiger symbolizes India’s wildlife wealth. It is considered as the national animal because of its grace, strength, agility and enormous power. Also, India is the land of the largest number of tigers in the world and consists of 50% of the world’s tiger population. Yet this creature is the most slaughtered one in the country and was on the verge of getting extinct. In 1970, the alarm was raised and hunting of tigers was made illegal.
Why is The Tiger Becoming Endangered?
In India, from the era of kings and princes, hunting tigers had been a popular source of entertaining sport, which continued during the British rule. The royal families and elites hunted tigers for several reasons; they were killed for the beautiful skin, which was used for making clothes, rugs, etc; for its multitude of medicinal properties and for other selfish interests. There was and there is a huge demand for tiger parts and products in the market outside India’s border, which is providing an added threat to the tiger’s very existence.
It is also perceived that large development projects like mining, thermal and hydroelectric dams are also affecting the tiger’s habitat as many forests have been destroyed to facilitate such projects.
Why Save Tigers?
As a large predator, tigers play a pivotal role in maintaining the equilibrium of the ecosystem. Tigers being the top predators, they are at the apex of the food cycle. They along with other predators keep a check on the herbivore animals, thus helping in maintaining the right balance of animals in the forest. This cycle can prevent deforestation. One tiger can protect several acres of forest in this way. In this way, the tigers and other animals will continue to get their natural habitat.
Tiger Conservation had become the most crucial project for India and other countries for numerous reasons.
The Prime Minister Indira Gandhi initiated a conservation programme called ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973 in Jim Corbett Park, Uttarakhand to save the tigers from becoming endangered.
The aim of this project was to create a safe and ideal environmental condition for the survival and growth of tigers and its prey.
The project started with nine tiger reserves and today there are 50 reserves across the country. Nagarjuna Sagar is the largest tiger reserve in India.
Over the years, this project has been able to identify and eliminate the factors responsible for the decline of tiger population in the country and successfully saved tigers to a large extent. Other than conservation, the aim of the Project Tiger is to aid and facilitate the breeding of tigers within a safe environment and transport them to other forests so that their population can be scaled up.
Problems of Project Tiger
The Tiger Project was very successful in its endeavor and the population of the tigers increased up to 3500 tigers in the year 1990 from 1200 tigers in 1973. However, due to illegal poaching the number drastically dropped. The project was not able to keep the pace with the rapid changes and development.
In 2006, the National Tiger Conservation Authority resumed the responsibility of implementation of Project Tiger to protect the endangered tigers. Many other NGOs have supported this government project by implementing many conservation activities to protect tiger habitats, mitigate tiger-human conflict, tackle wildlife crime, monitor tiger population, raise awareness and improve the livelihood of people living near the tiger reserves.
Many social campaigns were launched to create awareness about the alarming state of tigers in the country. Well-known celebrities became the face of these campaigns to attract the public for this national cause.
Tiger is an iconic species and yet it is slowly getting extinct. There could be possibilities that our future generation never gets to see tigers in real life but only in pictures. So it is important that citizens of India become aware of this and take all preventive measures to save this species.
1. Why should we save tigers?
The tiger is a large predator, which plays a significant role in the health and diversity of the ecosystem. Tigers are at the top of the food chain, maintaining the balance between the prey and herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed.
2. When was Project Tiger launched and by whom?
2. The Prime Minister Indira Gandhi launched the Project Tiger in 1973.
3. What is the aim of Project Tiger?
The Project Tiger aimed at creating a safe and ideal environmental condition for the survival and growth of tigers and its prey.
4. Mention two reasons for the extinction of tigers?
The two reasons for the extinction of tigers are encroaching the natural habitat of the tigers for development of industries and poaching of tigers for their body parts, as there is a huge demand in the international market.