New Delhi: Tiger, the symbol of Indian wilderness, is disappearing fast and steadily in spite of the fact that at various levels the government and other agencies undertake number of schemes and programmes to save the national animal. An alarming decline in the number of tigers have exposed the futility of the ‘Save Tiger campaign’.

Regarded as the symbol of our culture and civilization, the tiger population is vanishing at a rapid pace. While there were about one lakh tigers a century ago, the number has decreased to a meager 3200 only. If the situation persists for a longer period, the national animal may only be visible in books rather than in forests and reserves.
Expressing concern on the increasing disappearance of the big cats, the Tiger Task Force constituted in 1970 pointed finger towards the fact that only 1,827 tigers remained in the country. Taking note of the situation, the ‘Project Tiger’ programme was launched in 1973 to save the endangered species.

Initially, the Project Tiger was just limited to nine tiger reserves spread in total area of 16,339 sqaure kilometres. 40 years down the line, the project proves to be a marginal success in controlling the disappearance of the big cats. It can be considered partially successful because it has saved the tigers from extinction due to which India stands among the few nations which can boast of being a home to the royal animal.

However, the failure of the project can be gauged from the fact that there were 1,827 tigers in the country four decades back whereas it reduced to 1706 in the tiger census 2011.

Not many would be aware that three tiger sub-species (Java, Bali and Caspian), out of nine, have become extinct. The fourth sub species found in southern China is also on the verge of extinction. Only a few dozen tigers of this species are remaining and the process of preserving samples of this species is in full swing.

Moreover, five species namely -- Siberian, Bengal, Indo-Chinese, Malaya and Sumatra -- are struggling to survive. The tigers are being hunted for thousand years for their skin and other body parts.

According to a fresh report of the TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, organs of about 1,069 tigers were seized in the last decade. Also, the large scale destruction of their habitat and the lack of prey have led to their falling numbers. A study reveals that only 7 percent residential area of the required habitat is now available for the tigers. Therefore, there is a dire need for collective cooperation by the people of the country to save the pride of India.