New Delhi, May 27 (IANS): Six countries, including Russia and China, have sought India's help to replicate Project Tiger, one of the most successful conservation programmes running in the country to protect the big cats from extinction.
During the first stock-taking conference held in the capital in mid-May to review implementation of the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP), tiger range countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Russia, Vietnam, Myanmar and China approached India to help them in conserving tigers. Leaving Nepal, none of the countries has done any tiger census and has no idea about the number of tigers present in the wild.
"India has been running one of the most successful tiger conservation programmes since 1973 and most of the tiger range countries want us to help them replicate it there," Rajesh Gopal, member secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), told IANS.
He said India would support future programme of action and conservation of tigers in other countries. "Such cooperation will give India an opportunity to come to the centrestage of tiger conservation and come out with a tiger atlas of the world," said Gopal.
India has 1,706 tigers in the wild -- the highest numbers in the world. The credit for saving tigers in the country goes to the Central government's Project Tiger, launched in 1973. Considering the urgency of the situation, Project Tiger was converted into NTCA, a statutory authority, in 2006 with more power and separate funding for the conservation of tigers.
India took a lead in tiger conservation by forming the Global Tiger Forum (GTF), an international body established with members from willing countries to embark on a global campaign to protect the animal.
India's Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan currently chairs the forum. Other members include Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. India and Russia have recently come up with a joint resolution of agreed action to protect tigers.
Collaboration on tiger conservation is already going on with Nepal, while Bangladesh, Vietnam and Myanmar want India's help in assessment and capacity building.
India's success story in reintroducing tigers from wild to wild has generated keen interest, says Gopal.
"India has a good experience in the re-introduction of tigers from wild to wild, which is a success story in terms of planning, execution and monitoring. Considering the interest evinced by the Russian side in leopard and tiger re-introduction, India may share these experiences with Russia for mutual benefit," he said.
Besides, India can help in monitoring and electronic surveillance of tiger reserves, training and capacity building of field officers/specialists, landscape planning, cooperation on anti-poaching strategy and planning and exchange programmes to share experiences of best practices in tiger conservation.
The main achievements of Project Tiger are excellent recovery of the habitat and consequent increase in the tiger population in the reserve areas, from a mere 268 in nine reserves in 1972 to 1,706 in 39 tiger reserves in 2011.