The Government of India (GoI) has sanctioned funds towards the continuance of the ‘Project Tiger’ Scheme in three tiger reserves of Assam. These are Nameri, Kaziranga and Manas Tiger Reserve. The funds released is the first installment of the conservation funds and is to be utilized according to the agreement signed at Dispur last year. A total amount of Rs. 573.08 lakh is released for the current fiscal, of which Rs. 272.72 lakh will go to Kaziranga, Rs. 237.50 lakh to Manas and Rs. 63.58 lakh to Nameri.
Project Tiger Scheme has been under implementation since 1973 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the GoI under its Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The objective of the scheme is to ensure a viable population of tiger in India for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural and ecological values and to preserve for all time, areas of biological importance as a natural heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people. Some major tasks carried out under the scheme are wildlife management, protection measures and site specific eco-development to reduce the dependency of local communities on resources from tiger reserve.
As sanctioned under the scheme, Manas Tiger Reserve will be allowed construction of new anti-poaching camps, construction of RCC bridges at South boundary road, procurement of deep freezer for preservation of tiger carcass and purchase of solar panel. Kaziranga has been sanctioned funds for procurement of GPS sets, standard type night vision device, solar lighting systems, life jacket and reward to informers and staff, among other things. While Nameri Tiger Reserve will utilize the funds to construct forest guard quarters, extension of interpretation center at range HQ and purchase of a projector for public awareness and meetings.
Currently, tigers in India are facing major population losses and are threatened with extinction. Some of its cousins have already got extinct like the Caspian tiger in 1950s and the Bali and Java tiger soon after. Loss of habitat, illegal trade of its body parts and conflicts with human population are some of the major reasons contributing towards extinction of tigers in the country. Today we need to realize that saving tigers is not just preserving the national animal but saving the ecosystem for human survival.
According to a joint study conducted by Aaranyak and Assam Forest Department, it has been found that Kaziranga National Park in Assam has the highest density of tigers in the world. Manas has been categorized a “poor” tiger reserve by the Centre since it has a low density of the animal. Sources said the estimated number of tigers in Manas is 15-18 while Nameri has been found to have good satisfactory number of tigers. With media having launched the Save Tiger initiative, hopefully the tigers of the Northeast jungles will also be heard.