The celebration of 50 years of Project Tiger - is a milestone achievement in wildlife conservation. In 1973, Project Tiger was launched with a mission to ensure the survival of the endangered tiger in India and preserve areas of biological importance as a national heritage. Since then, the project has come a long way and achieved many remarkable accomplishments.
The project's scale of implementation and the diverse habitats under its coverage are unparalleled in the contemporary world. Project Tiger has been instrumental in putting the endangered tiger on a definite path of recovery. It has saved the species from extinction and improved the protection and status of its habitat, ensuring the survival of tigers for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural, and ecological values.
Over the past five decades, Project Tiger has grown from nine tiger reserves to 53 tiger reserves, providing a safe haven for not only the flagship species but also other endangered plants and animals. The project's core buffer strategy has also provided opportunities for local communities to participate in site-specific ecodevelopment activities, generating significant wages and creating a sense of ownership for the wildlife.
Project Tiger has also contributed to several intangible environmental benefits such as carbon dioxide absorption, microclimate improvement, rainfall, and river flow. It has served as a role model for wildlife management planning, habitat restoration, protection, and ecodevelopment, providing funding support to states for enhancing protection and deployment of local workforces and ex-army personnel.
Project Tiger has also co-opted the Zoological Survey of India and the Botanical Survey of India to bring out compendia on faunistic and floristic surveys in tiger reserves. Management Effectiveness Evaluation and economic valuation of tiger reserves provide an evidence base for concerted conservation efforts and targeted management practices. Thanks to the dire commitment of all stakeholders, Project Tiger has led to a phenomenal increase in the number of tigers in the wild, positioning India as one of the thirteen Tiger Range Countries, with more than 70% of the world's wild tiger population.
On this 50th anniversary of Project Tiger, let us celebrate India's effort in tiger and wildlife conservation, and acknowledge the remarkable contributions of all those who have made this possible. Together, we can continue to work towards preserving our natural heritage for the benefit, education, and enjoyment of the people for generations to come.