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Stocktake: Project Tiger at 50 Years



  Jan 10, 2024

Stocktake: Project Tiger at 50 Years




Project Tiger, initiated in 1973, marks its 50th year with a complex legacy of conservation success and socio-ecological challenges.

1. Project Tiger's Growth: Evolved from 9 tiger reserves in 1973 to 54 across India by 2022. Expanded from covering 9,115 sq. km to 78,135.956 sq. km.

2. Tiger Population Increase: Significant rise in tiger numbers, with latest estimates indicating between 3,167 and 3,925 tigers in India.

3. Policy Shifts: The Wildlife (Protection) Act (WLPA) of 1972 and the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006 were instrumental in reshaping tiger conservation and the rights of forest-dwellers. The WLPA established National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, impacting the rights of local communities. The FRA aimed to recognize and secure the rights of forest-dwelling communities, including in tiger reserves.

4. Critical Tiger Habitats (CTH) and Buffer Zones: CTHs were created to protect tiger habitats, with buffer zones to facilitate human-animal coexistence. The approach faced criticism for displacing forest communities and not adequately involving them in conservation efforts.

5. Conflicts and Controversies: The conservation strategy often led to conflicts between the forest bureaucracy and local communities. Issues around voluntary relocation, compensation, and rehabilitation under the LARR Act have been contentious. Resistance to recognizing forest rights within tiger reserves persists, despite legal provisions.

6. Governance and Implementation Challenges: Discrepancies in implementing the WLPA and FRA, and difficulties in balancing tiger conservation with human rights. The lack of clear guidelines and inadequate consultation with affected communities has led to disputes and resistance.

7. Future Prospects and Concerns: With the tiger population increasing, the expansion of tiger reserves and corridors may intensify human-wildlife conflicts. There's a growing need for policies that ensure both effective conservation and respect for the rights and livelihoods of local communities.

In conclusion, Project Tiger's 50th year highlights both its conservation successes and the ongoing challenges in reconciling ecological goals with social justice and community rights.

SRIRAM’s


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