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Project Tiger Scheme Project Tiger Scheme has been under implementation since 1973 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme

of Government of India. Objective The main objective of Project Tiger is to ensure a viable population of tiger in India for scientific , economic , aesthetic , cultural and ecological values and to preserve for all time, areas of biological importance as a natural heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people. Main objectives under the scheme include wildlife management, protection measures and site specific ecodevelopment to reduce the dependency of local communities on tiger reserve resources. Initially, the Project started with 9 tiger reserves, covering an area of 16,339 sq.km., with a population of 268 tigers. At present there are 27 tiger reserves covering an area of 37761 sq.km., with a population of 1498 tigers. This amounts to almost 1.14% of the total geographical area of the country. The selection of reserves was guided by representation of ecotypical wilderness areas across the biogeographic range of tiger distribution in the country. Project Tiger is undisputedly a custodian of major gene pool. It is also a repository of some of the most valuable ecosystem and habitats for wildlife. Tiger Reserves are constituted on a 'core-buffer' strategy. The core area is kept free of biotic disturbances and forestry operations, where collection of minor forest produce, grazing, human disturbances are not allowed within. However, the buffer zone is managed as a multiple use area with twin objectives of providing habitat supplement to the spill over population of wild animals from the core conservation unit, and to provide site specific ecodevelopmental inputs to surrounding villages for relieving their impact on the core. Except for the National Parks portion if contained within, normally no relocation of villages is visualised in the buffer area, and forestry operations, NTFP collection and other rights and concessions to the local people are permitted in a regulated manner to complement the initiatives in the core unit. Project Tiger has put the tiger on an assured course of recovery from the brink of extinction, and has resurrected the floral and faunal genetic diversity in some of our unique and endangered wilderness ecosystem. The population of tigers in the country has increased significantly to about 4000 from less than 2000 at the time of launch of the project. The effective protection and concerted conservation measures inside the reserves have brought about considerable intangible achievements also, viz. arresting erosion, enrichment of water regime thereby improving the water table and overall habitat resurrection. Labour intensive activities in tiger reserves have helped in poverty alleviation amongst the most backward sections, and their dependence on forests has also reduced. The project has been instrumental in mustering local support for conservation programme in general. Approach: Elimination of all forms of human exploitation and disturbance from the core and rationalisation of such activities in the buffer. Limitation of the habitat management to repair damage done by man. Researching facts about habitat and wild animals and carefully monitoring changes in flora and fauna.

There has not been any major problem in release of the budget outlay in the last three years under the scheme. However, actual utilisation of funds has been affected due to delay in release of funds by the State Government to the field units. This matter has been discussed in the Steering Committee of the Project Tiger meeting held on 8.5.2000. On the part of this Ministry , it has been decided to release the first instalment of Central assistance without waiting for the submission of UCs. However the second instalment is released only after obtaining UCs. In order to monitor the expenditure it is proposed to request the State Government to furnish, its allocation along with the quarterly financial and physical targets of Annual Plan of operations. IX PLAN ACHIEVEMENT OF PROJECT TIGER DIVISION No. During the VIII plan period the budget outlay for Project Tiger Scheme was Rs. 40.00 Crores. During the IX plan the budget outlay was substantially increased to rs. 75.00 Crores. During the IX Plan, Project Allowance to an extant of Rs. 3.95 Crores to field level staff was funded under this scheme for the first time. During this Plan period funds to an extant of Rs. 2.49 Crores has been released for creation of Strike Force to combat the growing insurgency and extremist situations within the Tiger Reserves. During the Plan period four new Tiger Reserves were declared, namely Tiger Reserve State Karnataka Maharashtra Arunachal Pradesh / Assam Madhya Pradesh Year of Formation 1998-99 1998-99 1999-2000 1999-2000 Area(sq. Kms.) 492 257 1206 1486 3441 Funds released 318.459 223.421 93.100 75.220 710.200

1 Bhadra 2 Pench 3 Pakui-Nameri 4 Bori-Satpura Panchmarhi

The effective protection and concerted conservation measures inside the reserves have brought about considerable intangible achievements also viz. arresting erosion, enrichment of water regime and thereby improving the water table and overall habitat resurrection. Labour intensive activities in tiger reserves have helped in poverty alleviation of the most backward sections and their dependence on forests has also reduced. The project has been instrumental in mustering local support for conservation programme in general.

During the X Plan, it is envisaged to carry out on the Project with further impetus on peoples support for conservation of nature and natural resources.

What Endangered

is means danger of

an the species

Endangered becoming extinct or

species? dying out.

Tigers are facing major population losses & extinction. Tigers are killed for sport, skins & body parts. The 1950s saw extinction of the Caspian tiger. The Bali and Java tiger are also extinct. The last Bali tiger was killed in 1937; the last Javan tiger was seen in 1972. India today has the largest number of tigers, with between 3,600 to 4,000. The South

China Reasons

tiger

(20-30 for

are

remaining), the

is

nearly

extinct

in

the

wild. Status

Endangered

The Bengal tiger is endangered because it is poached for its body parts to cater to an illegal market. Another reason is habitat loss due to depletion of forest cover interference of humans and encrochment of forest land by people causing fragmentation. At the turn of the century, there were almost reportedly 40,000 tigers in India, but now only around 4,000 remain in the wild. Why Save Tigers?

Tiger is symbol of wilderness and well-being of the ecosystem. By conserving and saving tigers the entire wilderness ecosystem is conserved. In nature, barring human beings and their domesticates, rest of the ecosystem is wild. Hence conserving wilderness is important and crucial to maintain the life support system. So saving tiger amounts to saving the ecosystem which is crucial for man's own survival.

Past Project Tiger: Project Tiger, launched in 1973-74, is one of our most successful conservation ventures in the recent times. The project aims at tiger conservation in specially constituted 'tiger reserves', which are representative of various biogeographical regions falling within our country. It strives to maintain a viable tiger population in the natural environment. An estimate of the tiger population in India, at the turn of the century, placed the figure at 40,000. Subsequently, the first ever all India tiger census was conducted in 1972 which revealed the existence of only 1827 tigers. Various pressures in the later part of the last century led to the progressive decline of wilderness, resulting in the disturbance of viable tiger habitats. At the IUCN General Assembly meeting in Delhi, in 1969, serious concern was voiced about the threat to several species of wildlife and the shrinkage of wilderness in the country. In 1970, a national ban on tiger hunting was imposed and in 1972 the Wildlife Protection Act came into force. A 'Task Force' was then set up to formulate a project for tiger conservation with an ecological approach. The project was launched in 1973, and various tiger reserves were created in the country on a 'core-buffer' strategy. The core areas were freed from all sorts of human activities and the buffer areas were subjected to 'conservation oriented land use'. Management plans were drawn up for each tiger reserve, based on the principles outlined below: 1. Elimination of all forms of human exploitation and biotic disturbance from the core area and rationalization of activities in the buffer zone. 2. Restricting the habitat management only to repair the damages done to the ecosystem by human and other interferences, so as to facilitate recovery of the eco-system to its natural state. 3. Monitoring the faunal and floral changes over time and carrying out research about

wildlife. Initially, 9 tiger reserves 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 13,017sq.km-viz 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. The various States are also bearing the loss on account of giving up the forestry operations in the reserves. The main achievements of this project are excellent recovery of the habitat and consequent increase in the tiger population in the reserve areas, from a mere 268 in 9 reserves in 1972 to 1576 in 27 reserves in 2003. Tiger, being at the apex of the food chain, can be considered as the indicator of the stability of the eco-system. For a viable tiger population, a habitat should possess a good prey base, which in turn will depend on an undisturbed forest vegetation. Thus, 'Project Tiger', is basically the conservation of the entire eco-system and apart from tigers, all other wild animals also have increased in number in the project areas. In the subsequent 'Five Year Plans', the main thrust was to enlarge the core and buffer zones in certain reserves, intensification of protection and ecodevelopment in the buffer zones of existing tiger reserves, creation of additional tiger reserves and strengthening of the research activities. The management strategy was to identify the limiting factors and to mitigate them by suitable management. The damages done to the habitat were to be rectified, so as to facilitate the recovery of eco-system to the maximum possible extent. Management practices which tend to push the wildlife populations beyond the carrying capacity of the habitat were carefully avoided. A minimum core of 300 sq. km. with a sizeable buffer was recommended for each project area. The overall administration of the project is monitored by a 'Steering Committee'. The execution of the project is done by the respective State Governments. A 'Field Director' is appointed for each reserve, who is assisted by the field and technical personnel. The Chief Wildlife warden in various States are responsible for the field execution. At the Centre, a full-fledged 'Director' of the project coordinates the work for the country.

Present

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Wireless communication system and outstation patrol camps have been developed within the tiger reserves, due to which poaching has declined considerably. Fire protection is effectively done by suitable preventive and control measure Voluntory Village relocation has been done in many reserves, especially from the core, area. In Kanha, Bandipur and Ranthambhore, all the villages have been shifted from the core, and after relocation, the villagers have been provided with alternate agricultural lands and other community

benefits. This has resulted in the improvement of the carrying capacity of the habitat. Live stock grazing has been controlled to a great extent in the tiger reserves. Various compensatory developmental works have improved the water regime and the ground and field level vegetations, thereby increasing the animal density. Research data pertaining to vegetational changes are also available from many reserves. In general, the 'restorative management' and 'intense protection' under 'Project Tiger' have saved many of our eco-typical areas from destruction. The area around the buffer is now contemplated as a zone of multiple use, to bring compatibility between the reserves and the neighbouring communities.

Future

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a) Use of Information and Communication technology in Wildlife Protection and Crime Risk Management in Tiger reserves. Wildlife protection and crime risk management in the present scenario requires a widely distributed Information Network, using the state-of-art Information and Communication Technology. This becomes all the more important to ensure the desired level of protection in field formations to safeguard the impressive gains of a focused project like 'Project Tiger'. The important elements in Wildlife protection and control are: Mapping/plotting the relative spatial abundance of wild animals, identification of risk factors, proximity to risk factors, sensitivity categorization, crime mapping and immediate action for apprehending the offenders based on effective networking and communication. Space technology has shown the interconnectivity of natural and anthropogenic phenomena occurring anywhere on earth. Several Tiger Reserves are being linked with the Project Tiger Directorate in the GIS domain for Wildlife Crime Risk Management. b) GIS based digitized database and MIS development/networking in Tiger Reserves: With the advanced IT tools, a wide gamut of software solutions are available to improve wildlife related information capture process, its analysis and informed decision making. Geographic Information System is the most relevant of these technologies for natural resource management projects, including wildlife management. The mandate of project tiger is to conserve tigers in a holistic manner. The GIS based database at PTHQ is being linked with the microcomputers in the Tiger Reserves, so that a dynamic linkage for rapid information flow is established using Arc IMS facility. c) Tiger Habitat & Population Evaluation System for the Indian Sub Continent A 'Tiger Atlas of India' and a 'Tiger Habitat & Population Evaluation System for the country is being developed using the state- of - the - art technology. This involves: 1. Mapping , data acquisition and GIS modeling 2. Field data collection and validation 3. Data Maintenance , Dissemination and Use The following potential tiger habitats in the country are being covered:

>Shivalik-Terai Conservation Unit(Uttaranchal, UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Nepal) >Nort east Conservation Unit >Sunderbans Conservation Unit >Central Indian Conservation Unit >Eastern Ghat Conservation Unit >Western Ghat Conservation Unit Satellite data is being used and classified into vegetation and land use maps on a 1:50,000 scale, with digitized data relating to contour , villages, roads , drainage , administrative boundaries and soil . The spatial layers would be attached with attribute data , viz. human population , livestock population , meteorological data, agricultural information and field data pertaining to wildlife, habitat for evolving regional protocols to monitor tiger and its habitat. Vision For the Future The dynamics of forest management and wildlife conservation have been distorted due to need for income, lack of awareness, lack of landuse policy and population pressure. Since the traditional use systems of people are neither static nor benign, these should not be overlooked. A regional development approach in landscapes having Tiger Reserves is of utmost importance in our country. It should be viewed as a mosaic of different landuse patterns, viz, tiger conservation / preservation, forestry, sustainable use and development, besides socio-economic growth. Tiger habitats exist in environments of thousands of indigenous communities which depend on them. Therefore we cannot view these protected areas in isolation from the surrounding socio-economic realities and developmental priorities of the Govt. This calls for a cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary approach.

Tigers now need a "preservationist" approach. Regional planning is important around Tiger Reserves to foster ecological connectivity between protected areas through restorative inputs with integrated landuse planning. The management plan of a Tiger Reserve, therefore, needs to be integrated in larger regional management plans.