The Bengal tiger has been a national symbol of India since about the 25th century BCE when it was displayed on the Pashupati seal of the Indus Valley Civilisation. On the seal, the tiger, being the largest, represents the Yogi Shiva's people
India has about two-thirds of the world's wild tigers, according to the IUCN Cat Specialist Group. in the past, Indian censuses of wild tigers relied on the individual identification of footprints (known as pug marks), which one review criticized as inaccurate. Using modern camera trap counting methods, the landmark 2008 national tiger census report, Status of the Tigers, Co-predators, and Prey in India, published by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, estimates only 1411 adult tigers in existence in India (plus uncensused tigers in the Sundarbans).
As of June 2009, Bengal tigers are found in 37 tiger reserves spread across 17 Indian states.An area of special interest lies in North India where 11 protected areas are found in the Terai Arc, comprising dry forest foothills and dune valleys at the base of the Himalayas. "The whole idea," says Seidensticker, "is to maintain the connection between them, to create a necklace (of habitat) along the Nepal-India border, involving 1,000 miles from the Royal Chitwan National Park to Corbett National Park."
Once a royal hunting reserve, Chitwan became a national park in 1973. New economic incentives give villagers a direct stake in this renowned tourist attraction, with more than a third of revenues from park entrance fees being returned to the 300,000 people living in 36 villages in the surrounding buffer zone. As a result, locals are now creating and managing tiger habitat and consider themselves guardians of their tigers.
Rivaling Chitwan for the title of the world's best tiger habitat is the Western Ghats forest complex in western South India, an area of 14,400 square miles (37,000 km2) stretching across several protected areas. The challenge here, as throughout most of Asia, is that people literally live on top of the wildlife. The Save the Tiger Fund Council estimates that 7,500 landless people live illegally inside the boundaries of the 386-square-mile Nagarhole National Park in southwestern India. A voluntary if controversial resettlement is underway with the aid of the Karnataka Tiger Conservation Project led by K. Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
A 2007 report by UNESCO, "Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage" has stated that an anthropogenic 45-cm rise in sea level (likely by the end of the 21st century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), combined with other forms of anthropogenic stress on the Sundarbans, could lead to the destruction of 75% of the Sundarbans mangroves.