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.