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Tiger Conservation News:


  • LA Times
    India's tiger country: Where anger comes in on giant cat feet
By Mark Magnier September 8 2009

A century ago, India had about 100,000 tigers, and maharajas and British sahibs would dispatch dozens of them in a single hunt. The maharaja of Surguja recorded 1,100 lifetime kills, many from atop an elephant.

Wildlife experts say they're making progress against poachers. Notorious kingpin Sansar Chand, 51, who, with family members, is blamed for wiping out Sariska's last 22 tigers, is serving a five-year prison sentence.

Chand and his gang reportedly befriended villagers at Sariska's periphery -- Meena and others in his village of Indok deny they ever made deals with him -- who then informed the poachers when a tiger attacked their livestock, providing valuable information on the animal's whereabouts.

The Chand gang reportedly worked with smugglers in Nepal and Tibet, who used mules and yaks to ferry the contraband across the mountains into China.

Chand, who often posed as a mattress salesman, sometimes transporting the pelts and bones in the bedding, was first arrested in 1974 at age 16 with tiger and leopard skins and hundreds of body parts. After serving time, he eluded police for much of the next three decades....

  • Indian tiger park 'has no tigers'
By Faisal Mohammad Ali
BBC News, Bhopal
One of India's main tiger parks - Panna National Park - has admitted it no longer has any tigers.
The park, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, was part of the country's efforts to save the famous Royal Bengal Tiger from extinction. ...
  • Sariska Tiger Reserve
Thus broke open the Third Tiger Crisis. Soon the Rajasthan Forest Department and the Project Tiger Directorate declared an "emergency tiger census" in Sariska and the Central Bureau of Investigation conducted a probe. After a two month exercise they finally declared that Sariska indeed did not have any tigers left....
  • The Economist May 26th 2007
    More of a whimper
Susan Gir
Unsated by the last of the world's tigers, the Chinese are turning to lion.
A testy flick of a black-tipped tail and the lion shows itself, resting in a sandy-brown thicket after the arduous business of mating. The female is ten yards to the right, staring statuesque through the scrub. The pair of Asiatic lions, in Gir National Park, in India's western state of Gujarat, will conjoin every 25 minutes for four days. With every ejaculation, the male will emit an increasing weary roar. Being a lion is not easy - and not only because the species is so inefficient at reproducing.
Feb 22nd 2007 | BEIJING
From The Economist print edition
What immortal hand or eye?
The controversial ancestry of the South China tiger
FEW peoples are as proud of their uniqueness as are the Chinese. Many feel the same way about one of their national emblems: the South China tiger. So two Americans who have questioned its pedigree have created quite a stir.
In 2004 Stephen O'Brien, head of genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, published the results of a 20-year study into the species. His findings concluded that of the five beasts he sampled, labelled in the Chinese zoos where they were kept as South China tigers, only two were of “unique lineage”. Three were no different genetically from the Indochinese tiger, a separate sub-species endemic to Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos....
India tigers 'in rapid decline'
Published: 2007/05/24 08:25:09 GMT
India has far fewer tigers living in the wild than had been thought, initial results from a major new study suggest.
The Wildlife Institute of India census showed tiger numbers falling in some states by two-thirds in five years. A final report is due out in December. ...
  • Tiger, tiger, boiling in the pot
Sunday Independent, 17 June 2007
Leon Marshall
The world asks China to maintain its ban on the trade of tiger parts, and to dissuade people from eating them.
Tigers may be one of the world’s most evocative — and threatened — animal species, but there is this weird idea, peculiar to some Chinese, that they are best for the pot, be it for cooking or wine-making or as medicine.
Not unlike South Africa’s canned lions, about 5000 of the animals are awaiting just such a fate on tiger farms in China. But the grotesque industry seems to have been thwarted once again.
At a meeting in The Hague, member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) called on China not to lift its 14-year-old ban on trade in tiger parts. They also urged the country to phase out its commercial tiger farms and to offer tigers better protection in the wild.
A statement from the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) says the resolution was strongly supported ‘by three other countries with wild tiger populations.- India, Nepal and Bhutan — as well as the United States.
Dr Susan Lieberman, the director of the WWF’s global species programme, noted after the passing of the resolution that China had said in the past that it would not lift its ban on trade In tiger parts without listening to scientific opinion from around the world. “The world spoke today,” she said.
Investors in China’s massive tiger-breeding centres have been pressing the country’s government to lift its 14-year-old ban on trade in tiger parts so they can legally sell products such as tiger-bone wine and tiger meat.
The facilities have acknowledged stockpiling tiger carcasses in the hopes that the ban would be lifted.
Jan Vertefeuille, the communications manager of the WWF’s tiger programme, says all parts of a tiger are valued on the black market.
But in China in particular, the bones are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat arthritis and pain.
Eating tiger meat is seen as a status symbol. It suggests you are consuming the power of the tiger.
Tiger-bone wine is made by leaving a tiger carcass immersed in rice wine for years, The brew is supposed to boost health.
Some ethnic communities wear tiger skins for certain rituals, but the practice has declined. So has tiger bone’s use in medicine.
A WWF statement says traditional medicine practitioners have found mole-rat bone to be better
Once more, as with South Africa’s canned-lion industry, one of the big headaches is what to do with the estimated 5000 tigers held in captivity if the breeding farms are to be phased out. It is said to be practically impossible to introduce captive-bred tigers into the wild. They cannot fend for themselves and they pose a danger to humans.
Vertefeuflie says: “We don’t know what will happen to the animals, Many conservation and animal welfare groups are ready to advise the Chinese government on what to do once it agrees to phase out the farms. But they haven’t agreed to that yet.”
He points out that it is very expensive to feed tigers. It can therefore be expected that the farms will start cutting back on their breeding programmes once they realize that the ban on trade in tiger parts is not going to be lifted.
“But ultimately it is the responsibility of the owners and the government, which allowed this mass-scale breeding, to solve the problem of the 5000 captive tigers.”
Steven Broad, the executive director of Traffic International, a joint programme of the WWF and the World Conservation Union to monitor wildlife trade, says the danger of allowing a legal market in tiger products in China is that it would increase demand and allow criminals to launder products obtained from tigers poached in the wild.
“Tiger numbers in the wild are so precarious that we cannot risk any actions that could jeopardize them further,” he said.
The WWF reckons only about 5000 to 7000 tigers remain In the wild, mostly in isolated pockets spread across increasingly fragmented forests stretching from India to southeastern China and from the Russian Far East to Sumatra, Indonesia. Across its range, the animal is poisoned, shot, trapped and snared, mostly for the illegal wildlife trade.
Hunters, traders and poor local residents, whose main means of subsistence comes from the forest, are wiping it out, as they are doing to the animal’s natural prey.
While poaching for trade remains a serious danger to its survival, its biggest long-term threat is loss of habitat and depletion of its natural prey Commercial plantations have replaced a lot of tiger habitat in several tropical countries.
Three of the world’s nine tiger sub-species — the Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers — are already extinct. A fourth — the South China tiger — could soon join them. Some scientists already consider it “functionally extinct”.
The WWF says the best hope for tigers lies in creating priority areas.
It has devised a strategy that identifies seven focal tiger landscapes where the chances of long- term tiger conservation are best, and four additional areas where conservation opportunities are good.
In each of the focal landscapes, the WWF aims to establish and manage effective tiger conservation areas, reduce the poaching of tigers and their prey, eliminate the trade in tiger parts and products, create incentives that will encourage local communities and others to support tiger conservation, and build capacity for tiger conservation.
An article in BioScience journal quotes tiger experts as saying that habitat loss and intense poaching of tigers and their prey, combined with inadequate government efforts to maintain tiger populations, have resulted in a dramatic reduction in tiger numbers.
They now occupy just 7 percent of their historical range. Vertefeuile says the depletion of tigers has even given rise to concern in India for the last 350 Asiatic lions, kept in the Gir Lion Sanctuary.
The fear is that poachers will target the lions because there are so few tigers left to go after.






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