India celebrates 50 successful years of ‘Project Tiger’

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LONDON: Celebrating five decades of tiger conservation, India marked the 50th anniversary of “Project Tiger” on Saturday.

With a current population of about 3,000 tigers, India is home to more than 70 per cent of the global tiger population and their number is increasing by 6 per cent per annum, according to government figures.

India first launched Project Tiger under the then-prime minister Indira Gandhi on 1 April 1973, in a bit to promote conservation, The reported.

While it initially covered nine tiger reserves spread over 18,278 sq km, India now has 53 reserves covering more than 75,000 sq km (approximately 2.4 per cent of the country’s geographical area).

In a recent interview with an Indian daily, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said, “Project Tiger has been successful in bringing tigers back from the brink of extinction.”

The Indian government will officially mark the anniversary of the project on 9 April with a three-day event in Mysuru, in southern Karnataka state, The reported.

“50 years ago, ‘Project Tiger’ was launched by Smt. Indira Gandhi for habitat conservation of the Tiger. This landmark initiative ensured a viable tiger population for economic, scientific, cultural & ecological values. Let us continue protecting this majestic animal,” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge tweeted on Saturday.

At the event, prime minister Narendra Modi will release the latest tiger census data and a commemorative coin, The reported.

Yadav said the success of the project should not be viewed in terms of numbers alone.

“We believe in the scientific management of tiger reserves and aim to have a tiger population as per the carrying capacity of the habitat,” he said.

“The ministry is bringing all potential tiger habitats under the coverage of the NTCA [National Tiger Conservation Authority] so that the viable tiger population can be conserved on a sustainable basis,” he added.

On Saturday, the general secretary of the opposition Congress, Jairam Ramesh, also spoke about the 50th anniversary of the big cat conservation project.

Taking to Twitter, he posted, “[Fifteen] months after she launched Gir Lion Project, Indira Gandhi heralded Project Tiger exactly 50 years ago today at Corbett. There were 9 tiger reserves then. Today, there are 53. For her, protecting tigers is equal to protecting forests. Tiger reserves are 1/3rd of rich forest areas now.”
India along with other countries with tiger populations including Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam, committed to doubling their number of big cats in 2010 by 2022, The reported.
India met its target in 2018.(ANI)

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