50 Years of Project Tiger | Environment | Mains Current Affairs

50 Years of Project Tiger | Mains Current Affairs


Why is Project Tiger in the News?

  • The Indian government has officially marked 2023 as the 50th year of 'Project Tiger'.

About Project Tiger:

  • A Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), launched in 1973.
    • Initially launched in 9 Tiger reserves (TRs) in different states of India.
    • Provides central assistance to tiger range States for in-situ conservation of tigers in designated tiger reserves.
  • Objective: To ensure the maintenance of a viable population of tigers in India for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural, and ecological values.
    • Project Tiger does not only focus on protecting tigers but also ensures the overall health of the ecosystem by supporting prey populations. Focus on tiger and prey populations for ecosystem stability.
  • Implementing Agency: National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
    • NTCA was established in 2005 based on Tiger Task Force recommendations and given statutory status in 2006.
  • Funding pattern: 60% Central Assistance for non-recurring items, 50% for recurring items with matching grants from Project States.
  • Northeastern and Himalayan States receive 90% central assistance.
  • Project Tiger and Project Elephant were merged as Project Tiger & Elephant.

Activities undertaken under Project Tiger:

  • Establishment and development of Tiger Reserves: 55 tiger reserves. (Veerangana Durgavati Tiger Reserve and Dholpur – Karauli Tiger Reserve declared in 2023)
  • Core-buffer strategy: Core areas as national parks or sanctuaries, buffer areas as multiple-use areas.
  • Technological advancements: e-Bird project using UAVs for surveillance.
  • Using M-STrIPES (Monitoring System for Tigers Intensive Protection & Ecological Status). application for assessment.
  • Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF): Deployed in several TRs for anti-poaching operations.

Data Bank: 5th Cycle of All India Tiger Estimation 2022 Report:

  • Minimum number of tigers in India: 3,167.
  • Highest number of tigers in Central Indian Highlands and Eastern Ghats.
  • Largest tiger population in Madhya Pradesh (785) followed by Karnataka (563).
  • Highest tiger abundance within Tiger Reserve: Corbett (260) followed by Bandipur (150).

Phases of Tiger Conservation in India

  • First Phase (1970s): Enactment of Wildlife Protection Act and establishment of protected areas.
    Second Phase (2005-06): Adoption of landscape-level approach and strict monitoring.

Challenges in Tiger Conservation

  • Habitat Loss and Fragmentation: Only one-third of forests in tiger states are in relatively healthier condition.
  • Human-Wildlife Conflict: Conflicts arise as human populations expand into tiger habitats.
  • Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade: Tigers targeted for skins, bones, and body parts.
  • Climate Change: Shifting temperatures altering tiger habitats in Himalayan States, Sundarbans, and Western Ghats.
  • Monitoring Issues: Tigers moving across state boundaries create monitoring challenges.
  • Other Threats: Invasive plant species like Lantana camara threaten tiger reserves.
  • Lack of Funding: Tiger conservation efforts require significant financial resources for habitat protection, anti-poaching measures, and community engagement.
  • Lack of Political Will: Political instability, corruption, and lack of enforcement of conservation laws can undermine conservation efforts.
  • Illegal Wildlife Trade: The illegal trade in tiger parts and products fuels poaching and threatens tiger populations. 

Ways to Protect Tigers:

  • Habitat Protection and Restoration: Focus on expanding and protecting tiger habitats.
    • Also establishing wildlife corridors to connect different habitats.
  • Community Involvement and Awareness: Engage local communities in conservation efforts through education.
    • Promote sustainable livelihoods to reduce reliance on natural resources.
  • Anti-Poaching Measures: Enhance law enforcement efforts, collaborate with communities, and impose strict penalties for wildlife crimes.
    • Work with communities to gather intelligence on illegal activities.
    • Implement strict penalties for wildlife crimes to deter offenders.
  • Climate Change Mitigation: Support research on climate change impacts on tiger habitats.
  • Public-Private Partnerships: Encourage private sector involvement in tiger conservation through CSR initiatives.

Do you know:

  • White tigers are not a separate sub-species but are white due to an expression of recessive genes.


  • The tiger is the National Animal of India and a flagship species.
  • India is home to 75% of the world's wild tiger population, with smaller populations in neighboring countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar.
  • Tigers can be found in a variety of habitats in India, from mountains to forests to mangrove swamps.

Significance of Tigers:

  • Ecologically, tigers are both a Flagship and Umbrella species, important for conservation efforts.
  • Economically, tigers support ecotourism and related industries.
  • Culturally and spiritually, tigers are symbols of power and strength.

Tiger Characteristics:

  • Tigers are solitary and territorial animals, with males having territories that may overlap with multiple females.
  • Each tiger's stripes are unique, like human fingerprints.
  • Tigers are skilled swimmers, able to navigate various types of water bodies.

Tiger Protection Status:

  • IUCN Status: Endangered.
  • CITES: Appendix I.
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I and Schedule IV.