Right from the reigns of the Mughal Dynasty to the Britishers, tiger hunting was popular. Mughal Emporer Akbar introduces hunting or shikar in India. The sport was famous to the extent that the Mughal paintings portrayed pictures of Maharajas victoriously standing with their kill. Tiger being the most ferocious animal fetched them more reward and money. Tigers were killed ruthlessly to show off their strength, courage and bravery. In many provinces, killing tigers was considered to be very auspicious. The Rewa rulers murdered 109 tigers each time someone took over the throne. Tiger kill was thought to be auspicious especially during deaths, births, or crowning of a new king. For the British Raj, tiger hunt meant displaying their valor and strength. History estimates that over 90,000 tigers were slain from the 16th Century until now. It did not stop here. Hunting of Tigers took a toll after the Independence. Killing the maximum number of tigers bagged the Maharajas trophies. They did anything to bag the prize. The Maharajas servants drugged the tigers beforehand just so that the sport wouldn’t be very dangerous. Once Tiger pelts became famous all over the world, India started exporting tiger pelts. In 1971, when Rudyard Kipling wrote the Jungle Book, Over 100000 were thought to be alive in India. Sadly, at the end of the year 1971, just 1800 tigers were calculated to be alive. Something had to be done to save tigers from endangerment.
Rule of Indira Gandhi.
In 1973, When Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister, she put an end to tiger hunting and any sorts of export of tiger skin. She launched the “Project Tiger”. The project involved establishing nine tiger reserves across India. She even forced out the villagers outside the tiger reserve parameters. The 1984 census shows that 40000 tigers were left alive.
Second tiger crises.
In 1993, it was discovered that tigers were killed in large numbers for the Chinese medicinal trade. There emerged a growing demand for Tiger bones.2002 census calculated 3642 tigers alive. In 2004, it was noticed that not even a single tiger was left remaining in the Sariska Tiger Reserve. Not only was the management careless, but the whole reserve was also subjected to poaching. Though the “Project Tiger” had become access, it was poorly managed later on taking a severe toll on the Tigers. Politics and poor management resulted in the neglect of tiger’s safety. The 2005 census revealed that only 1700 tigers remained alive. By 2006, 45 Tiger reserves were established. Poor management of tiger reserves continues to be a problem along with poaching. In 2011, the tiger death toll was 71. In 2012, it skyrocketed to 88, and in 2013, the death tolls increased to 80. Sad, but true! It is time that the authorities come up with the proper management plan to save tigers!