In the 16th Century, the Mughal Emperor Jalalud- Din Muhammad Akbar introduced shikar or hunting. In other words, the Mughals introduced hunting in India. Hunting was carried down until the downfall of the Mughal Empire in 1857. The Mughals considered hunting as a heroic sport. Tiger was the most rewarded kill. The dynasty was passionate about hunting to the extent that, the Mughal paintings portrays pictures of Mughals going hunting on an elephant or a horse.
Organizing game hunts was a favorite sport of the British Raj too. Hunting was regarded as the symbol of status, power and wealth. The Maharajas and the generals set out for hunting in large numbers and returned showcasing the carcass of tigers and another hunt. The tiger was regarded as the highest form of valor and bravery. Hard efforts and a lot of practice were always put in to hunt tigers. The Tigers would be drugged beforehand to reduce danger for the hunters. The history of hunting of tigers does not stop here! In 1911, when King George took over the throne, he travelled all the way to Nepal, slaughtering 39 tigers per day. Colonel Geoffrey Nightingale slew over 300 tigers in India. In 1920, the Maharaja of Kotah designed a Rolls Royce (with machine gun and canons) to use it just for tiger safaris. The Rewa kings in Central India regarded it as a good omen to hunt tigers. 109 is an auspicious number for them; they killed 109 tigers each time a new Rewa king succeeded the throne. Similarly, a massive number of a tiger would be killed when a Rewa princess is born. They believe the hunt is good luck and omen for the newly born child. A historian named Mahesh Rangarajan estimated around 8000 tigers were slain from the years 1875 to 1925.
Scenario after Independence.
After Independence, the scenario escalated to be even worse. The most ferocious animals fetched people the biggest trophy. Anything would be done to kill tigers. A high number of tiger hunt record added to their prestige. The Maharaja of Surguja slew up to 1150 tigers. Tigers were hunted to make tiger pelts. These were then sold abroad.
The Indira Gandhi rule.
Indira Gandhi is known as the wildlife saviour of India. She outlawed the export of tiger pelts and fought against the endangerment of the tiger species. It was predicted that the tiger population would become extinct by the end of the Century. This was when Indira Gandhi outlawed hunting. In 1973, Indira Gandhi launched “tiger project” which is world’s largest initiative undertaken to protect tigers. In 1993 strict laws regarding tiger poaching was introduced in India. The 2002 census estimated the presence of about 3642 tigers.