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The Indian Government have been ardent on wildlife conservation. The rampant and sudden decline in the number of tigers has raised the need to take up conservation steps for wildlife. The Indian Government has taken various measures to create a better and thriving environment for the tiger population in the country.
Through the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the government has taken a number of steps and initiatives to conserve and protect the tiger population in the country. On Sunday 28 July, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan asserted that the government has taken steps towards developing guidelines for tiger safaris, reducing the pressure on eco-tourism and to protect and preserve the habitats and population of tigers in India.
The Union Environment Minister pointed out that, "the big cats were part of the country's heritage and their protection is our responsibility towards the world and future generations."
Homing 70 per cent of the world's tiger population, according to the latest census, there are an estimated 2,967 tigers in the country.
Measures By The Indian Government
Project Tiger is one of the most successful wildlife conservation measures initiated by the Indian government. Inaugurated in 1973, the project has been successfully able to contribute towards the conservation of tigers as well as the entire ecosystem. According to the Ranthambore National Park report, 'Project Tiger has seen significant success in the recovery of the habitat and increase in the population of the tigers in the reserve areas, from a scanty 268 in 9 reserves in 1972 to above 1000 in 28 reserves in 2006 to 2000 plus tigers in 2016.'
Apart from this, several legal, administrative, financial and international cooperation measures have been taken with the aim of preserving and conserving tigers and their habitats.
The legal steps include Amendment of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 in 2006 to provide enabling provisions for constituting the National Tiger Conservation Authority under section 38 IV B and the Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau under section 38 IV C. Enhancement of punishment for offences and guidelines under section 380 1 (c) of the Wildlife Act, 1972 was also one amongst the effective measures taken up by the government.
Administrative steps include the constitution of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) with effect from the 4 September 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation; Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau (Wildlife Crime Control Bureau) with effect from the 6 June 2007 to effectively control illegal trade in wildlife, strengthening of anti-poaching activities, including special strategy for monsoon patrolling, by providing funding support to tiger reserve states; National Tiger Conservation Authority tiger reserves, and various other measures have been employed, solely focused on the improvement of tigers.
In collaboration with TRAFFIC-INDIA, an online tiger crime database has been launched by the Indian government, a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with tiger states was implemented to gain funds for effective construction of tiger conservation initiatives.
The minister also asserted that smart patrolling and notification of five more tiger reserves are among the measures undertaken by the government to ensure the protection of the big cats. Along with that, he also said that the government has set a target of doubling the tiger population in the country - but did not mention the goal year or timeline.
Considering the topic of tiger conservation, Debopriya Mondal, a conservation professional from Kolkata pointed out that, "In my experience of working with the local communities of Sundarbans, I have felt that unlike projected everywhere else, the communities have reached a position where they are aware of the need of conservation.....local communities of Sundarbans have been more tolerant towards tigers. Instead of being violent, they handle the situation tactfully -by informing the forest officials and Joint Forest Management Committee member."