Monday, March 28, 2011

India wild tiger census shows population rise

An Indian tigress wearing a radio collar jumps into the river from a boat as she is released by wildlife workers in the Sundarbans in February 2010 This is the first time that tigers in the Sunderbans have been counted

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The number of tigers in India's wild has gone up by 20%, the environment and forest ministry says.
The latest census puts the population of the big cat at 1,706. There were 1,411 tigers at the last count in 2007.
The count included 70 tigers in the Sundarbans tiger reserve, which had not been covered in the last census.
India, with more than 45,000 sq km (27,961 miles) of forest area under 39 designated tiger reserves, had 100,000 tigers at the turn of the last century.
Since then there has been an alarming decline in numbers with 97% of tigers lost to poaching and shrinking habitats.
Today, fewer than 3,500 tigers remain in the wild around the globe with India accounting for more than half of them.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh described the increase in numbers as "good news" and "a very encouraging sign".
"We have expanded the survey to cover the entirety of India now and our estimate is now more accurate," Associated Press quoted Rajesh Gopal of Project Tiger, the government's tiger conservation body, as saying.
Conservationists used hidden cameras installed at strategic points [like water bodies in forests and in the territories of big cats] and DNA tests to count the cats.
The survey included difficult terrain such as the Sundarbans mangrove forest in West Bengal state bordering Bangladesh.
Tiger numbers have been rapidly falling in recent years due to a rise in poaching, which experts say is now organised in a similar way to drug trafficking.
Conservationists say the authorities have not been able to put a stop to it, owing to corruption and the ever-changing techniques used by the cartels.
There is a huge demand for tiger bones, claws and skin in countries like China, Taiwan and Korea where they are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
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