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Tiger Reserves In India

By on November 15, 2012

Home to the majestic Bengal Tiger, India has since the older days, an intricate almost revered relationship with these magnificent beasts. Symbolized as an epitome of strength, courage and an indomitable persona, tigers have found their way into royal seals, insignia, coins and folklore since eons. A powerful roar coupled with acute sensitivity, stealth, untiring perseverance, agility, and brute strength makes it the perfect specimen of a predator. Its lithe body, powerful rippling muscles, striped tawny coat, captivating gaze of a killer and the royal gait beholds the spirit of the wilderness. But threatened by recreational hunting, industrialization, commercial forestry and loss of habitat, the lush Indian forests almost started getting depleted of tigers and their prey in the early 1900s. This led to the initiation of the concept of tiger reserves in India as an endeavor towards protecting the dwindling tiger population.

This led to the launch of Project Tiger in 1972 under the vigilance of Mrs. India Gandhi.  Project Tiger has incorporated into itself 42 Tiger Reserves, making India one of the largest tiger source sites in the world. Many of the tiger reserves in India are established in the former hunting grounds of the former Indian and British aristocracy.

Initially, 9 tiger reserves in India were established in different States during the period 1973-74, by pooling the resources available with the Central and State Governments. These nine reserves covered an area of about 13, Manas (Assam), Palamau (Bihar), Similipal (Orissa), Corbett (U.P.), Kanha (M.P.), Melghat (Maharashtra), Bandipur (Karnataka), Ranthambhore (Rajasthan) and Sunderbans (West Bengal). The project started as a ‘Central Sector Scheme’ with the full assistance of Central Government till 1979-80: later, it become a ‘centrally Sponsored Scheme’ from 1980-81, with equal sharing of expenditure between the center and the states.

The W.W.F. has given an assistance of US $ 1 million in the form of equipments, expertise and literature to maintain the tiger reserves in India. The various States are also bearing the loss on account of giving up the forestry operations in the reserves.

Tiger reserves in India are representative of various bio-geographical regions falling within our country. It strives to maintain a viable tiger population in the natural environment. Complementing the mainstream efforts, initiatives have been launched towards restoring the forest habitat, arresting deforestation and fragmentation, providing financial and technical help to create alternative forest-independent livelihood options to the local inhabitants under various Govt. sponsored schemes, working up an anti-poaching stance with the help of ex-army personnel, increased patrolling and building state of the art breeding and vet-centers. The Global Tiger Forum of Tiger Range Countries has been created for addressing international issues related to tiger conservation. In areas where the number of tigers and their prey has deteriorated to a minimum, special advisories have been issued for in-situ build-up of prey base and tiger population. Apart from conserving the endangered species of multiple flora and fauna, the Project has contributed towards generating wages for fringe dwellers and boosted eco-tourism along with regulating rainfall, river flow, micro climate, carbon dioxide absorption; the otherwise intangible environmental factors.

The 42 tiger reserves in India are geographically categorized into the following landscape clusters for effective management:

  1. Central India-Eastern Ghats Landscape (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh)
  2. Western Ghats Landscape (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerela)
  3. The North East Hills and Brahmaputra Flood Plain (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram)
  4. Sundarbans (West Bengal)
  5. Sivalik Gangetic Plains and Eastern Ghats Landscape (Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar)
  6. The ‘Red Corridor’

The largest Tiger Reserve in India is the 3,568 km2 (1,378 sq mi) Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve of Andhra Pradesh.

Since their inception, in the Cenozoic Tertiary and Quaternary era, about 8 species of tigers have been known:

  1. The Amur/Siberian (Panthera tigris altaica)
  2. The Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris Tigris)
  3. South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)
  4. Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni)
  5. Indo-Chinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti)
  6. Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae)
  7. Balinese tiger (Panthera tigris balica) – EXTINCT
  8. Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) – EXTINCT
  9. Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) – EXTINCT

The incessant endeavors of the Indian Govt. have been focused on protecting the Royal Bengal Tiger from the same fate as the Balinese Tiger, the Javan Tiger and the Caspian Tiger. Tiger safaris have been launched to provide the tourists a rendezvous with the Big Cats; both educational and recreational. A glimpse of the majestic being, camouflaged amongst the tall grass is a sight to behold! One cannot ignore the call of the Nature, to experience the spirit of the wilderness.




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