Project Tiger ushered in loud roars in 50 reserves

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Photo- Ajay Suri

By Ajay Suri

Long live the tiger! It would not be wrong to say that tiger, the most
majestic of all animals in India, owe it’s existence to the remarkable
events that started unfolding during this month in 1973.

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Photo-Ajay Suri

Due to rampant poaching and legal `shikar’, the tiger in the early 70s
had reached on the precipice of extinction. Only 1200 were left in the
wild. It was just the matter of giving it the final push down the
precipice- when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi personally
intervened, to give that much-needed lease of fresh life to the beautiful
but beleaguered big cat. On April 1, 1973, at her being firmly on the
steering wheel, the Indian Government launched Project Tiger to save
the apex species of Indian forests.

The one-point agenda of Project Tiger was to save the tiger from
annihilation. Poaching, of course, was a major threat and was the first
issue which the Central Government tackled through the newly found
Project Tiger. The second important task was to set up tiger reserves-
the inviolable stretches of forests ruled by the wildlife with no or
minimum human interference.

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Photo-Ajay Suri

At the launch of Project Tiger, nine tiger reserves were set up in the
country. Today- thanks to its resounding success- there are 50 tiger
reserves spread all over India. And the tiger population too has risen to
respectable 3000.

Jim Corbett Park- where the Project Tiger was launched- was named
after the famous hunter turned conservationist Jim Corbett. Situated in
the `Terai’ belt on the foothills of the Himalayas, it has one of the most
spectacular settings which a wildlife and nature lover could wish for.

Over the past three decades, I have been visiting Corbett Park
frequently- at times with friends and often alone. And visit to this
enthralling place has been unique, providing new experiences, never to
be repeated but ensuring something new every time.
The very setting of Corbett Park is the stuff dreams are made of. Rolling
green hills, grasslands, jungle tracks, the pristine Ramganga river
winding through the park- these are the things which make Corbett
truly unique.

With tiger at the top of its food chain, the rich wildlife of Corbett Park,
in its dazzling, unspoiled surroundings is the strongest manifestation of
Project Tiger’s success. In the subsequent years, Project Tiger’s name
was changed to heavy sounding National Tiger Conservation Authority
(NTCA), but the aim of the two remains the same: to save the Indian
tiger, come what may.

Let me sign off with a few photographs clicked in this enchanting reserve
at different periods.

(Ajay Suri is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist,
based in New Delhi. He can be reached through his blog
tigersandbeyond.com or contacted at suriajay@gmail.com)

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