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Tiger ‘census’ confirms fears

Monday 18 February 2008

tigerThe tiger population of India is continuing to dwindle, according to the newly released census report on the issue, says WWF. The India Tiger Estimation, an authoritative investigation covering 2006/07, places the figure between 1165 and 1657 tigers, with around 100 additional individuals expected to be included following further counting in the regions adjoining Bangladesh. The number, although not directly comparable to earlier estimates because of changes in survey equipment, is far lower than expected.

“These estimates are distressingly low, but at least now we have better habitat and population data than ever before and we can intervene more strategically and more effectively to help ensure that tiger populations can recover, and that India can maintain its national symbol,” commented Sujoy Banerjee, Director of Species Conservation at WWF-India. “It is also amply clear that the tiger numbers are at threshold, and if the numbers go down any further, then recovery may not be possible at all.”

Tigers face a number of varied threats to their existence, including poaching and habitat loss. Last week saw reports of the thriving black market trade in Sumatran tiger body parts, underlining the scale of the problems facing the species.

“The time has come from the government and all other institutions and agencies to show serious commitment to tiger conservation if at all we wish to see tigers in the wild in India in the future,” added Mr. Banerjee.

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