Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the program ‘Commemoration of 50 years of Project Tiger’ at Mysuru University in Karnataka on Sunday. He also launched the International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA). He released the publications- ‘Amrit Kaal Ka Vision For Tiger Conservation’, a summary report of the 5th cycle of Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves, declared tiger numbers and released the summary report of All India Tiger Estimation. In addition, he unveiled a commemorative coin to mark Project Tiger’s 50th anniversary.
Highlights of PM @narendramodi's address at the inaugural session of commemoration of 50 years of Project Tiger in Karnataka#ProjectTiger#50thYearsProjectTiger#InternationalBigCatsAlliance @moefcc @byadavbjp @AshwiniKChoubey pic.twitter.com/CIFUxn0LID
— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) April 9, 2023
In July 2019, PM Modi called for an Alliance of Global Leaders to eliminate demand and effectively stop poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Asia. The International Big Cats Alliance is being launched which will focus on the protection and conservation of seven major big cats of the world, viz. Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Puma, Jaguar and Cheetah, with a membership of the range of countries that are home to these species.
He remarked on the momentous growth of the tiger population in India. He said that everyone is witness to the landmark event of Project Tiger completing 50 years and remarked that its success is not only a moment of pride for India but the entire world.
He emphasised that India has created an ecology that allows tigers to thrive in addition to preventing the population of tigers from dwindling. In the 75th year of Indian independence, the Prime Minister stated his happiness that 75% of the world’s tigers reside in India. It is also a coincidence, he continued, that the tiger reserves in India cover 75,000 square kilometers of land and in the past ten to twelve years, the tiger population in the country has increased by 75 percent.
He stated that India’s traditions, culture, and natural urge towards biodiversity and environment hold the key to explaining why the number of tigers is growing there compared to other nations where it is either stagnant or declining. This is a question that wildlife enthusiasts around the world frequently ask. The Prime Minister said, “India does not believe in the struggle between ecological and economics, and pays equal priority to the coexistence of both.
The Prime Minister referred to the significance of tigers in Indian history and noted that tigers were graphically depicted on ten thousand-year-old rock art in Madhya Pradesh. Additionally, he pointed out that while many Indian cultures view the tiger as a friend and sibling, the Bharia and Worli communities in Maharashtra and elsewhere worship the big cat. He continued by saying that Lord Aiyappa and Maa Durga ride tigers.
The Prime Minister noted India’s exceptional successes in wildlife conservation and added, “India is a country where protecting nature is part of the culture.”
He mentioned that India has only 2.4 percent of the world’s land area but it contributes toward 8 percent to known global biodiversity. He said that with approximately 30,000 Asian elephants and about 3,000 single-horned rhinos, India is the world’s largest country with a tiger range, Asiatic elephant range, and single-horned rhino population.
He went on to say that India is the only country in the world to have Asiatic lions, and that by 2020, there will be 675 of them instead of the 525 there were in 2015. He also mentioned the leopard population in India, noting that it had grown by more than 60% in just four years. Referring to the work being done to clean up rivers such as the Ganga, he highlighted that some aquatic species that were once considered to be in danger have shown improvement. He credited the people’s participation and a culture of conservation for these achievements.
The Prime Minister reiterated that the success of Project Tiger has many dimensions and it has led to an increase in tourist activity, awareness programs and a reduction in Man-Animal conflicts in Tiger Reserves. “The presence of big cats has made a positive impact on the lives and ecology of the local people everywhere”, Modi added.
“Wildlife protection is not a one-country issue but a universal one”, the PM said, stressing the need for an International Alliance. He informed that in the year 2019, the Prime Minister had called for an alliance against poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Asia on Global Tiger Day, and remarked that the International Big Cat Alliance is an extension of this spirit.
“The focus of the International big cat alliance will be on the conservation of the world’s 7 major big cats including tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar and cheetah”, the Prime Minister remarked and explained that countries that are home to these cats will be a part of this alliance.
He further elaborated that the member countries will be able to share their experiences, help their fellow country more quickly, and lay emphasis on research, training and capacity building. “Together we will save these species from extinction, and create a safe and healthy ecosystem”, Modi remarked.