The program credited with saving India's tigers from extinction is endangered itself, thanks to a proposed move to slash funding for central government programs.
Launched 38 years ago by Indira Gandhi, Project Tiger could go the way of the Dodo if the prime minister excepts a planning commission to merge it with other similar programs to make one mammoth wildlife protection program for tigers, lions, rhinos and so on, reports the Hindustan Times.
The change would mean that 20 % of the funds meant for wildlife conservation would have to be allocated for protection of state-specific endangered species, giving states more control over conservation efforts -- which many believe would make them less effective.
Nine non-official members of the National Board for Wildlife, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have already expressed concerns, the paper said.
“All of us are of a unanimous opinion that such a merger would adversely impact our efforts to conserve... our national animal, the tiger,” the members said in a letter to panel’s deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority, which administers Project Tiger, got around $125 million in the most recent five-year plan, according to the HT. The program has been credited with an increase in the tiger population in 2011 -- though tiger numbers had been declining for almost seven years despite its efforts.