In 1966, Indira Gandhi had taken over as Prime Minister. It was a time when countless hunting agencies mushrooming across India that enticed hunters from world over to kill their prize trophy, the tiger. But Indira Gandhi wouldn’t have it, for she had a strong connection with the natural world. By 1968, a ban was implemented on tiger hunting, quickly followed by a ban on the export of skins. The hunter had lost his trophy.
1,00,000-odd tigers were thought to have prowled in India in 1900. Seven decades later in 1970, the first dedicated effort to estimate their population was carried out, and the figure was a shocking one: 1800 tigers. The tiger was on the brink of extinction. It was then that concerned conservationists, both in India and abroad, mooted the idea of a special scheme to save wild tigers and their habitats. Project Tiger was born in 1973 and inaugurated in Corbett National Park. Nine areas were selected in India for complete protection and state of the art management. Simultaneously, Indira Gandhi enacted the Wildlife Protection Act of 1973 in Parliament.