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Tigers dying, census confirms

Every warning on tiger poaching was correct. Every news story on disappearing tigers was correct. Results of the first count are in and officials say there may be a shortfall of 150 tigers or more ? poisoned, trapped or killed.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2006 00:02 IST

Every warning on tiger poaching was correct. Every news story on disappearing tigers was correct. Results of the first count are in and officials say there may be a shortfall of 150 tigers or more — poisoned, trapped or killed.

The figures look dismal — 3,500 tigers compared to 3,646 in 2001. It is not just 150 tigers less. Officials say because of all the efforts going into Project Tiger their population was expected to rise by 500 — so the shortfall is possibly in the range of 650.

The number of surviving tigers is being put anywhere between 3,200 and 3,500. “There can be some changes once the second round of census is completed and computerised examination of pugmarks is done,” said an official. But don’t expect a surge.

Reports in recent months have shown a decline in some of the best-known reserves such as Ranthambhore and Sariska. Alarmed by these reports Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up a task force in 2005 to look at all the 28 reserves.

The current figures are the result of pugmark identification done in November and December. Now these figures are being double-checked through ground inspections and a computerised system.

The tiger population has gone down for the second consecutive census. In 1997, there had been 3,836 tigers.

First Published: Jan 08, 2006 00:02 IST