India’s Miraculous Tiger Rebound: From Dangerously Scarce to Rebounding in a Half-Century

Image credit: The New York Times

Fifty years ago, India’s tiger population was dangerously low, with only an estimated 1,800 tigers remaining in the wild. To prevent the complete loss of India’s tigers and the disruption of their delicate ecosystem, Project Tiger was launched. India recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of this intensive conservation effort, and the results are encouraging. The nation’s tiger population has almost doubled to 3,167 since the beginning of the project.

Initiatives have included anti-poaching measures, the relocation of villages to expand tiger reserves, the improvement of existing reserves, and more. There are now 53 tiger reserves overlaid on 28,958 square miles of India’s land–an area amounting to 2.3 percent of its total area. India’s booming population has posed considerable challenges to both conservation and human-tiger conflict management.

Recently, India has contempled sending some of its tigers abroad, in an effort to revive populations wiped out by poaching and hunting in other nations. India has also imported 20 cheetahs from African countries in the past year. This included 4 cubs born in the Kuno National Park located in central India.

When it comes to conservation, people are the key. The success of the project has been largely attributed to locals getting involved and the nation’s conservation culture. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recognized the collaboration between the government and citizens of India in the revival of its tiger population.

Narendra Modi is India’s 14th Prime Minister and the first to be born in independent India. A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, he served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat before becoming Prime Minister. Modi has consistently pushed for environmental conservation, highlighting the need to protect India’s natural life. His efforts have been essential in the success of the Project Tiger initiative.

Project Tiger was an innovative conservation effort launched by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1972. Its main goal was to protect and develop the environment by preserving India’s tiger population. The program called for special Tiger Reserves and the establishment of protective buffer zones, as well as anti-poaching campaigns, relocation of villages, and the improvement of existing reserves. The result after 50 years of hard work is India’s near-doubling of the tiger population in spite of a rapidly-growing human population. This success is a testament to the collaborative efforts of wildlife experts, citizens, and the government.