Authorities in states in India relocate two to three villages a year in an effort to protect some of the country’s 3,000 tigers, according to news from India. The relocations are part of the long term tiger protection strategy of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
India is home to about 70 percent of the world’s free-roaming tigers. Recent studies have suggested that fragmented habitat due to human presence may be leading to inbreeding. Indian authorities keep tabs on the countries tiger reserves and are willing to relocate entire villages to reduce human-tiger conflict.
An example of village relocation comes from 2011 when the NTCA decided to relocate the village of Sunderkhal, The village lies in the middle of dense forest in what is termed a tiger corridor. Tigers from the nearby Corbett National Park began to expand their range. In the resulting conflict about 40 people died in a six-month period. Eight tigers were killed. Corbett National Park is the oldest such park in India and was founded in 1936.The relocation was voluntary. Residents could receive Indian currency worth about 15000 Euros at the time, which was about $17,000 USD. Or the residents could swap their current land for another parcel. The relocation project had one major flaw. Corbett Park is a popular tourist destination and there were no plans to stop building hotels and other tourist friendly structures in the region.
The Park was named for Jim Corbett, a famous big-game hunter turned conservationist who hunted down known man -eating tigers. The park is located about 290 kilometers from Delhi in the foothills of the Himalayas. Corbett Park is one of the original 9 tiger reserves from Project Tiger in 1973. The park has grown from 324 square kilometers at its inception to about 1400 square kilometers, approximately 539 sqaure miles.
Project Tiger is the name of the original efforts to save the Bengal Tiger. It began April 1, 1973, when tigers in India were estimated to number around 1,200. Today, the number is three or four times as large.