Indian tigers in crisis, less than half left
Only 1,300 to 1,500 wild cats are estimated to be left in the wild and these estimates are based on a tiger census by the Wildlife Institute of India.india Updated: Aug 03, 2007 17:22 IST
India's tigers are facing their severest crisis with only between 1,300 and 1,500 left in the wild, less than half the population of endangered big cats previously estimated, conservationists said on Friday.
The estimates are based on a tiger census by the government-run Wildlife Institute of India, due to be made public later this year.
It is based on a new counting method and contradicts the previous figure of 3,642 reported by the 2001 and 2002 census.
"These are estimates done with what the government considers ... a robust scientific process and is a benchmark," Valmik Thapar, a renowned natural historian and tiger expert, told a WWF meeting called to discuss the tiger's plight.
"We all believe, in and out of government, that it is somewhere between 1,300 and 1,500 - that's shocking that we allowed it in five or six years to reach this dismal, abysmal state."
India is believed to have around half the world's surviving tigers. But their numbers have fallen drastically due to poaching to meet a demand for skins as well as bones and other body parts for use in traditional Chinese medicines.
Thapar said the new figures were gleaned from the agenda for the forthcoming meeting of India's National Board of Wildlife, which will be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and is expected to take place within the next month.