Back from the brink

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am

One hundred years ago India's tigers numbered about 40,000, yet within decades the Royal Bengal tiger faced extinction. Although hunting was outlawed in 1970, the survival of the species was threatened by continuing loss of habitat and poaching.

Enacting the Wildlife Protection Act in 1972, India's central government established the first nine tiger reserves, including Corbett and totalling 16,000 sq km across India.

There are now 27 reserves encompassing more than twice that initial land area.

Project Tiger has doubled India's tiger population while safeguarding much of the gene pool and habitats for wildlife generally, although some argue that some smaller reserves are not viable populations.

As at Corbett National Park, tiger reserves consist of a core, a heartland shielded from forestry, grazing and other disturbances. Buffer zones supplement the habitat and allow multiple uses, including pre-existing villages and forestry operations.

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