The Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Wildlife Sanctuary was declared in 1978. Before 1978, the management was not focused on wildlife. After declaration as Wildlife Sanctuary the management started focusing on Wildlife and Biodiversity.
The Jungle conservancy department of British Regime took the administration of forests in 1862. The Forest Act was enacted in 1882 and reservation of Forest Blocks was started in 1883. During 1905-1948, main plans were formulated, the first being M.A. Rahim Plan in 1931.
Some attempts were made for Wildlife Management by regulation of hunting. Facilities were created for sportsmen by issue of licenses. Shooting blocks were worked on a cycle of 4 Years. Department improved salt licks and water holes also. Sports men were encouraged to kill cattle lifters and man-eaters.
After Independence, rehabilitation and resettlement of submerged villages in N.Sagar Reservoir large tracts of forests were dereserved for habitation and cultivation. Srisailam Project increased the road network from Hyderabad to Dornala and so on. Up to 1972 forests were worked under contract system. In 1988, a historic decision was taken to ban all timber coupes except for supplies to temple and local needs.
The Sanctuary was declared in 1978. It attained the Project Tiger status in 1983. It was renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in 1992 to commemorate the first death anniversary of Shri Rajiv Gandhi , the Ex-Prime Minister of India. Final Notification of the sanctuary was done in 1998. Till 1999, the areas were under Wildlife & Territorial divisions. Since 1-11-1999 onwards Government brought the Management under unitary control of Field Director. In 2010, the entire Gundla Brahmeshwaram Wildlife Sanctuary with 1194 Sq.Kms area was declared as extended core of NSTR. In 2012, a buffer zone was declared around NSTR for strengthening the protection strategies. As per the A.P. Reorganisation Act of 2014, the part of the Tiger Reserve located on the northern side of Krishna River became part of Telangana State and the part of the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve located in the Southern side of Krishna River became part of Residual Andhra Pradesh.
The First management plan for the sanctuary after the declaration as Sanctuary in 1978 was formulated by K. Jagan Mohan Rao, I.F.S., Conservator of Forests for the period of 1990-2005. The Management Plan envisaged seven zones of Management namely, Core Zone, Interior Zone, Peripheral Zone, Visitor Zone, Aquatic Zone, Special Core Zone and Buffer Zone.
The first Management Plan was in force till the next revised Management Plan for the period 2000-2005 formulated by Dr.K. Thulsi Rao. The Management Plan focused on Holistic habitat management, General protection, Fire management, Vegetation and Grass land management, Catchment and Watershed management, Wildlife inventories and Research & Monitoring.
As per the A.P. Reorganisation Act of 2014, the part of the Tiger Reserve located on the northern side of Krishna River became part of Telangana State and the part of the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve located in the Southern side of Krishna River became part of Residual Andhra Pradesh.