Believed to be the 'spirit of the Indian jungle', the tiger is on the top of the ecological pyramid with no prowlers of its own. Their habitat encompass, for all practical purposes, those of their prey base itself in forests. The big cats need tranquility, large inviolate expanses for resting, loafing, breeding, and rearing their cubs. The tiger prey base is a critical determinant of tiger densities across tiger landscapes. Habitat loss is the key driver of the decline in tiger population in the country. Sadly, India has already lost around 94 per cent of tiger habitat in the last century. Habitat loss and habitat degradation are directly and indirectly attributable to anthropogenic pressures and activities. While no wildlife habitat on the planet has remained safe from anthropogenic disturbances, nothing seemed amiss owing to low population pressure and a congenial environment in most parts of the country. Nonetheless, India's firm commitment to tiger conservation was again reflected when it signed the St. Petersburg resolution to double the world tiger population by 2022.
We must make a basic code of guidelines for habitat recovery for further discussion and consequent additions and alterations. We also need to expand the core areas or critical tiger habitats of tiger reserves. Besides some of the first nine tiger reserves, a few relatively new tiger reserves with huge potential should have a core zone of at least 2,000 square kilometres. The needs to chalk out a plan for several long-term region-wise specialist groups of retired forest officers and range ecologists to draw up protected area-specific habitat improvement programmes. It is extremely important and would also put an end to the personalised trial and error approach. These groups need to closely watch the implementation of these programmes at every stage and monitor the results of such initiatives. Besides, maintaining detailed documentation of site-specific habitat improvement inputs, such as periodic observations, monitoring, and inspection remarks is also important.