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What is a Tiger Reserve in India?

Uday Patel

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When you visit a wildlife destination your eyes open up to nature for it is a holistic experience. You learn about how life forms interact and relate to each other. A tiger reserve is a home for the big cat but it is also home for many other life forms big and small. Hence such a unit is called an ecosystem and it is regulated by a web of the living and the biotic elements that assist in the survival.

The most important aspect of an ecosystem is a food chain which is pyramid shaped with the indicator species or the apex predator on the top. It is interesting to learn how myriads of life forms are dependent upon each other and help in survival of all. The ecosystem is the complex aspect of a habit of tigers. They are the apex predators in an ecosystem and hence they play a most important role in the web of life pertaining to that system. In India the tiger reserves are conservation units and hence protected.

The tiger reserves are legal bodies also known as protected areas they have been constituted under the Project Tiger Program and governed by NTCA or National Tiger Conservation Authority. The units are divided into two areas with a distinct legal framework. The main area or the critical tiger habitat is called core zone and here no human activity is allowed except that of the sentinel. All human habitation has been shifted out of this zone to outer areas or the buffer zone. In the buffer zone usually human settlements are present and existing fields are the agricultural entities. Some commercial activities are also allowed but the forests are preserved for animals as well as men. The buffer area acts as cushion for population of animals overflow.

In the core and buffer zone a certain area is chalked out for tourism and it is contained with this area. Tourism is part of conservation as well as a revenue generator an essential element. In parks like Bandhavgarh, Tadoba and popular Ranthambhore National Park tourism is regulated by a set of rules. For safari in the park permits are required and limited numbers of vehicles are allowed inside. This way excessive tourist pressure and disturbance is avoided.

The protected areas such as the tiger reserves have proved beneficial for conservation and have been highly successful. India is expanding the network of PAs in order to better conserve diversity in the country.


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