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Dipping tiger tally cause for concern in several Asian nations

Even as India hopes to improve its big cat tally from the present 1,411, their number has now declined drastically in tiger range countries such as Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia due to poaching and other reasons.

world Updated: Jun 28, 2010 20:14 IST

Even as India hopes to improve its big cat tally from the present 1,411, their number has now declined drastically in tiger range countries such as Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia due to poaching and other reasons.

At a two-day meeting of the Global Tiger Forum (GTF) beginning Monday, the representatives from these nations discussed thread-bare the issues confronting tiger conservation and underlined the need for trans-boundary cooperation to check poaching.

They also expressed concerns that habitat loss, unabated smuggling of animal parts and bones and declining prey base continued to take toll on the tiger population which is now estimated to be less than 3,000 worldwide.

Wildlife warden of Hukang Tiger Reserve in Myanmar, Myint Maung said the number of tigers in the sanctuary has declined to less than 100 because of killing of preys by hunters for human consumption or illegal trading in the area.

The tiger reserve in northernmost Kachin state covers an area of about 22,000 square kilometres, and is claimed the
largest of its kind in the world where two kinds of Bengal and Indochina tigers are found.

He also pointed that there was acute shortage of human resources to protect tigers.

Nepal Forest Minister Deepak Bohara said his government has joined hands with China for the first time to promote cooperation in the field of biodiversity conservation, management of forest resources and protection of wildlife.

"Now there will be better coordination to keep a tab on poachers smuggling tiger parts and bones to China where they are used to feed traditional medicinal market," he added.

Voung Tien Manch, Scientific and Cooperation Officer from Vietnam, said that in the last five decades tiger numbers have decreased to 50. "We have 95 tigers in captive including zoos which are managed under strict regulations for non-commercial purpose," he added.

Tiger expert and National Tiger Conservation Authority Member K Ulas Karanth gave detailed presentation on the efficacy of the camera trapping system in identifying the number of tigers as well their prey base. He along with Qamar Qureshi from Wildlife Institute of India underlined the need for connectivity between tiger landscape for their survival.

A tiger census is presently being conducted in tiger reserves across the country and results are expected to be announced by the year-end.

"GTF being the only inter-governmental body for tigers is ideally suited to offer a new paradigm for conserving this species among its range countries. We have no time to lose since the wild tiger population is at its tipping point," said
Ravi Singh, Secretary General of World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).