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Poachers kill one tiger every day; only 1300 left
October 31, 2007 15:41 IST
Last Updated: October 31, 2007 15:46 IST
The National Wildlife Board will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on Thursday and brief him about the disastrous impact of poaching and the destruction of the natural habitat of the Tiger, one of the planet's most threatened animals.
Dr Singh, who formed a panel to probe the shocking disappearance of tigers from the Sariska reserve in February 2005, will be told that the country's remaining tiger population could be as low as 1,300.
The panel will also tell him that drastic action has to be taken against the two forces threatening the big cat's chance of survival.
"That size of a population is scientifically not viable," the Independent quoted Valmik Thapar, a tiger expert and member of the National Board of Wildlife, as saying.
"But in the real world you have to try as hard as you can."
The report in the British newspaper said no one knows precisely how many tigers are left in India, home to perhaps 80 per cent of the world's remaining animals and which, at the turn of the 20th century, was estimated to have up to 100,000 animals. It is believed there were about 5,000 at the start of the decade.
The most recent census, conducted in 2001 and 2002, put the figure at 3,642. But many experts questioned the way in which that count was handled and a new census was carried out by the government-run Wildlife Institute of India using a more scientifically robust method and preliminary results of the new count have put the population at between 1,300 and 1,500.
"The new figures and facts came as no surprise to conservationists, although the government is still recovering from the shock," Belinda Wright, executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, was quoted as saying.
"In Madhya Pradesh, the study has shown a loss of 61 per cent on the figures of the previous tiger census. The state of Maharashtra has shown a loss of 57 per cent."
She added: "In the past census... many tigers were found outside the tiger reserves. The new study shows virtually no tigers outside the tiger reserves."
Experts say not enough is being done to halt the continued poaching of the animals, which are highly prized in China and other parts of East Asia for their pelts and body parts.
The report said a tiger skin can fetch up to �5,300 while tiger penises -- traditionally believed to have near-magical properties -- can fetch �14,000 per kilo.
The tiger has suffered from a loss of its habitat as a result of large-scale mining and hydro-power dam projects. The loss of habitat and prey encourages tigers, pure carnivores, to seize domestic livestock which in turn aggravates local farmers, the report said.
The tiger is the national symbol but, in the past five years, poachers have been killing them at the rate of one a day, campaigners believe.
Recently, in China, a farmer clicked about 70 pictures of a South China tiger in the wild. The South China tiger was believed to have become extinct and has not been spotted in the past 20 years.
China has banned hunting in the region and officials are searching for the tiger there.