India with 70% of the world’s tiger population is rightly known as the kingdom of the tiger. With the signature orange fur, black stripes, tigers have become icons of beauty, powers and the importance of conservation.
National Tiger Conservation Authority
Tigers have evolved into six subspecies. The tiger’s tale of evolution can be traced back to 2 million years ago when the earliest known tiger left Africa and ventured into Asia. Overtime tigers split into a sub-species with six still alive today. These are:
- South China tiger
- Malayan tiger
- Indo-Chinese tiger
- Siberian tiger
- Bengal tiger
- Sumatran tiger
The most numerous subspecies is the Bengal Tiger, accounting for approximately 50% of the tiger population worldwide. The population of tigers were estimated around 40,000 in the beginning of 19th century. Mostly tigers were poached for skin and sport. To save tigers, the government had launched “Project Tiger” in 1973, poaching was banned, and sanctuaries and national parks were formed. Since then the population of tigers have risen to 2967 as per 2018 Tiger census.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has played a significant role not only in the conservation of tiger but also increasing the tiger count across India. With the success in the conservation of tigers, the Supreme Court has recently directed the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to introduce African Cheetas into the Indian habitats.
About National Tiger Conservation Authority
A Task Force was set up to look into the problems of tiger conservation in the country, which was recommended by the National Board for Wildlife. The National Tiger Conservation Authority was launched in 2005, following recommendations of the Tiger Task Force. It was given statutory status by 2006.
- The Government of India has taken a pioneering initiative for conserving its national animal, the tiger, by launching the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973.
- The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- It was provided the statutory status by the Wildlife (Protection Amendment Act, 2006, which had amended Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Objective of NTCA
- To provide statutory authority to project tiger, so that the compliance of this directive becomes legal.
- It fosters accountability of Centre-State in management of Tiger Reserves.
- It addresses livelihood of local people in areas surrounding Tiger Reserves
What role does it play?
- It addresses the administrative as well as ecological concerns for conserving tigers, by providing a statutory basis for the protection of tiger reserves.
- It ensures enforcing of guidelines for tiger conservation and monitoring compliance of the same
- It lays down annual audit report before parliament and accords approval for declaring new tiger reserves
- It ensures critical support including scientific, information technology and legal support for betterment and implementation of the tiger conservation plan.
- As per the wildlife protection Act, every State Government has the authority to notify an area as a tiger reserve. However such plans need to be approved by NTCA first.
- Every year, the Central Government puts the annual report of the National Tiger Conservation Authority in each House of Parliament.
Note: The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006 (No. 39 of 2006) has come into force on 4 September 2006. The Act provides for creating the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau (Wildlife Crime Control Bureau).
Some highlights of Project Tiger
- Project Tiger is a centrally sponsored scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, providing funding support to tiger ranges Sates, for in-situ conservation of Tigers in designated tiger reserves.
- It is spread out in 18 Tiger Range states.
- From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 at present.
- The Tiger Reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
- The core areas-legal status of a national park or a sanctuary.
- The buffer or peripheral area is a mix of forest and non-forest land. It is managed as a multiple-use area.
- An exclusive tiger agenda in the core area in the buffer.
- State-level Steering Committees set up in the Tiger States under the Chairmanship of respective Chief Ministers.
- As recommended by the Tiger Task Force constituted by the Prime Minister, this has been done with a view for ensuring coordination, monitoring and protection of tigers in the States.
- Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers-526, Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442).
- IUCN status of the tiger is ‘Endangered’. The Zoological Survey of India keeps a track of endangered species of India.
- Smallest core area among all tiger reserves is of Orange, Assam. But it has the highest Tiger density. Orange is the 49th Tiger Reserve in India.
- Largest Tiger Reserve is ‘NSTR-Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve in Andhra Pradesh.
- Kamlang Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh is 50th.
- NTCA has recommended three new tiger reserves in principle approval- Ratapani (MP), Sunabeda (Odisha), Guru Ghasidas (Chhattisgarh).
About the re-introduction of Asiatic Cheetahs
- India once had a thriving population of Asiatic cheetahs.
- Their numbers fell dramatically in the colonial era due to hunting.
- The last of India’s cheetahs vanished about 60 years ago.
The Reintroduction of the cheetah in India
- It involves the re-establishment of a population of cheetahs into areas where they had previously existed.
- A part of the reintroduction process is the identification and restoration of their former grassland scrub forest habitats.
- The project will be undertaken by the local forest department of each state where the relocation occurs by central govt aid.
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