Project Tiger in India – Everything about Tiger Project

by Feb 18, 2019

Project Tiger in India

India is the world’s largest home for Royal Bengal Tigers. India hosts more than 70% of total Tigers in the world. It is no surprise then that we are also prime targets for tiger hunters and poachers. To overcome this threat Project Tiger was launched in 1973 in India.

Since the population of these beautiful big cats is spread across many states in India, the responsibility of protecting those falls upon the government. Project Tiger is the government’s response to this call of duty.

How Project Tiger was started in India

Back in the early 19th century, There were about 40,000 Royal Bengal Tigers in India. Within seven decades, Royal Bengal Tiger’s population dwindled to a mere 1800.

It was not only shocking and alarming but also a reflection of the neglect that was being heaped upon the National Animal of India. It was an undeniable failure.

In light of the scathing criticism brought on by these stats, the government looked into the issue and initiated steps to revive the tiger population in the country.

Project Tiger in India was launched on 1st April 1973 as a major wildlife conservation project in India. It was launched from the Jim Corbett National Park of Uttarakhand.

The initiative is funded by the Union Govt. of India and administrated under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is the immediate supervising agency.

Project Tiger in India
Project Tiger India
Img Credit@Mohammed Shujath

DOWNLOAD the complete “list of Tiger Reserves” in India PDF format with the core area, buffer area and total area updated till 2019.

Aim to start Tiger Project in India

The stated aims of Project Tiger were

  • To identify factors causing a reduction in tiger habitats and mitigate them through suitable management practices. The damages already done to the habitat were to be corrected so that the natural ecosystem can be recovered to the extent possible.
  • To maintain a viable tiger population for their economic, ecological, cultural and aesthetic significance

When was Project Tiger launched?

Project Tiger was launched in the year 1973. It was one of the most important conservation efforts initiated to protect Tigers in India. It was the first of its kind of Project in India to maintain the population of Tigers in India and to protect them from Poaching and other threats.


Initially, When Project Tiger was rolled out in 1973, nine tiger reserves encompassing an area of 9,115 sq km were identified to be brought under special protection. By the late 1980s the number of protected tiger reserves increases from 9 to 15. And a total area of 24,700 sq. km of forested land was reserved for the Tigers.

By 1984, the number of tigers present in Project Tiger reserves reached above 1100. In the next few years, more and more tiger habitats were added to the Project Tiger. By the year 1997 there were 23 tiger reserves stretched over an area of 33,000 sq. km were being protected under Project Tiger in India.

However, even as the range of protected areas continued to expand, the number of tigers didn’t increase considerably.

Tiger Census

The Tiger Census of 2006 projected 1,411 tigers were left in the country. Since the census methods used were technology-based, the results were more believable.

The results estimated a total tiger population at 1,411 individuals ranging from 1,165 to 1,657 adult and sub-adult tigers. 2006 Census created a second round of stir and debate around tiger conservation. Protection efforts have increased manifold since then.

Owing to the renewed sincerity to Tiger conservation, the number of tigers consistently increased in the next decade. 2014 Tiger Census-estimated 2,226 Bengal tigers in India.

Karnataka was the state with the highest tiger population. The recorded tiger count in the state was 408 as per the 2014 tiger census.

But, in 2018 Tiger Census, The crown of the Tiger State of India is been taken away by Madhya Pradesh with 526 Tigers, whereas Karnataka and Uttrakhand were second and third in position with 524 and 442 Tigers respectively.

The total Tiger Population as per the Tiger Census 2018 is 2,967 Tigers, which was 33% more than the 2014 Census and more than double, than the 2006 Tiger Census

Today, Project Tiger looks after 50 tiger reserves spread across 72,749 sq. km. of green cover in an effort to conserve the population of the Royal Bengal Tiger.


NTCA administers the Project Tiger completely. And for the same various conservation units have been established consisting of a field director and a group of technical people to assist.

Various conservation units that have been formed to help Project Tiger in India are:

  • Eastern Ghats Conservation Unit
  • Western Ghats Conservation Unit
  • Central India Conservation Unit
  • North-East Conservation Unit
  • Sariska Conservation Unit
  • Kaziranga Conservation Unit
  • Shivalik Terai Conservation Unit
  • Sunderbans Conservation Unit

For the sake of efficient management and tiger density-based administration, tiger reserves are created on the basis of a ‘core-buffer’ strategy.

Project Tiger India
Project Tiger Initiative in India was started in 1973
Image credit@Sujay

A particular expanse of land is identified and marked as the ‘core’ area of the reserve. These areas are kept free of all human activities. It usually has a legal status of National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary. No human activity is allowed inside the core area, including tourism. Even everyday tasks such as grazing and wood collection are banned.

The buffer areas usually surround the core area and are comparatively less frequented by the resident wildlife. Hence, limited human interaction here will not harm their habitat. Hence, it is subjected to ‘conservation-oriented land use’. Certain everyday activities necessary for daily life and living of surrounding villages is allowed.

The buffer area serves twin purposes. One, it serves as habitat supplement to spillover population of wild animals from the core area. Two, it becomes a livelihood source for surrounding villages and relieves their impact on the core zone.

The plan of action for each tiger reserve is drawn upon following key principles:

  • Elimination of all human interference from the core area and careful rationalization of activities in the buffer area
  • Limiting the habitat management practices to only repair activities for ecosystem damage
  • Monitoring the floral and faunal changes overtime for research

To counter poaching, wireless communication systems and outstation patrol camps have been deployed within the tiger reserves. Fire protection is ensured through preventive and control measures. Compensatory developmental works have improved water availability which in turn betters vegetation. Lush vegetation cover helps in increasing the tiger prey base.

Village relocation is one of the significant steps as well as a hurdle to reserve management in core zones. While some villages relocate voluntarily, most others resist giving up their ancestral dwellings. The issue gets even more sensitive in the case of tribal communities.

The Indian Government passed the Forest Rights Act in 2006 which recognized the right of some forest communities to their native forest area. Recognition of this right is bound to have a serious implication of tiger conservation efforts, the extent of which is yet to be determined.

The success of Project Tiger

India was facing a huge challenge in the conservation of Tiger, with only 1200 Tigers left in the wild, It was a great threat to these beautiful Big Cat. But a Great Thanks to NTCA to launch Project Tiger in 1973.

The tiger population now is around 3,000, which is still not healthy and stable, but thanks to Project Tiger. It’s all because of efforts of NTCA and Tiger Project Team

Royal Bengal Tigers population is still a point of concern, but at least it is increasing and more people are coming together to conserve Tigers, many people are now aware of the conservation measures and participating actively in wildlife conservation-related activities.

List of Project Tiger, Tiger Reserves in India

Below is the list of tiger reserves in India under Project Tiger.

Sr.Tiger Reserve
StateEstd. YearApprox. Area
(core + buffer)
1.Bandipur TRKarnataka19731456
2.Corbett TRUttrakhand19731288
3.Kanha TRM.P.19732051
5. Sunderbans West Bengal19732584
6.Melghat TRMaharashtra19732768
8.Palamau TRJharkhand 1973 1129
11.Sariska TRRajasthan19781213
12.Buxa TRWest Bengal1983757
Tamil Nadu19881601
17.Valmiki TRBihar1989899
18.Pench TRM.P.19921799
19.Tadoba TRMaharashtra19951727
21.Panna TRM.P.1599
28.Anamalai TRTamil Nadu1480
29.Udanti SitanadiChattisgarh1842
33.Dandeli Anshi Karnataka1097
35.Mudumalai Tamil Nadu 689
36.Nagarahole Karnataka1206
37.Parambikulam Kerala644
38.Sahyadri Maharashtra1165
40.Kawal Telangana 2015
41.SathyamangalamTamil Nadu1408
42.Mukandra HillsRajasthan760
43.Nawegaon NagziraMaharashtra1895

Statewise list of Tiger Reserves in India in PDF Format

DOWNLOAD the complete “list of Tiger Reserves” in India PDF format with the core area, buffer area and total area updated till 2019.

Some facts about Tigers in India

  • India hosts a total of 75% tiger population of the world
  • The result of the last Tiger Census 2018 was declared on 29 July 2019.
  • The total number of tigers in India is 2967 as per the latest 2018 Tiger Census report.
  • India is the only country to host three prime members of Big Cats Family; Lion, Tiger, and Leopards
  • India has more than 100 National Parks and 50 Tiger Reserves

Project Tiger FAQs

When was the Project Tiger started in India?

Project Tiger was started in April 1973 in India.

Who started Project Tiger in India?

Project Tiger was started by the Government of India in 1973, for the conservation of Tigers in India. All the project tigers are governed and managed by a committee called the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

How many Project Tiger are there in India?

There are a total of 50 Tiger Reserves in India which was governed by Project Tiger.

Which was the first Project Tiger?

Jim Corbett was the first national park to come under Project Tiger.