The National Animal of India

The magnificent Tiger Panthera tigris (linnaeus), the national animal of India, is a rich-coloured well-striped animal with a short coat. The combination of grace, strength, agility and enormous power has earned the tiger great respect and high esteem. Out of eight races of the species known, the Indian race known as the Royal Bengal Tiger, is found throughout the country except the north-western region, and also in the neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The tiger occupies a variety of habitats from dry open jungles, humid ever-green forests to mangrove swamps.

To check the dwindling polpulation of tigers in India, which came down to just 1,827 in 1972, massive conservation programme was initiated in April 1973, known as the 'Project Tiger'. This project aims to maintain a viable population of tigers in India for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural and ecological values. Since then, the tiger population has shown a gradual increase and the census of 1989 puts the tiger population of the country at 4,334. So far, 19 tiger reserves have been established in the country under this project, covering over 29, 716 sq. km. forest area.

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