POW­ER­FUL CREA­TURES IN PERIL

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - MORE | TELEVISION -

There are now far more tigers in cap­tiv­ity – at least 13,000, mostly in the US – than there are in the wild. More than half of those left in the wild, at least 2,200, are found in In­dia.

In the past cen­tury, more than 90% of the tiger pop­u­la­tion has been wiped out. Poach­ing is fu­elled by the ever-grow­ing de­mand for tiger prod­ucts in China. In the early 1990s, a sur­vey in Ran­tham­bore Na­tional Park in north­ern In­dia, once a hotspot for tigers, found just 15 in­di­vid­u­als – poach­ers had killed the rest to sup­ply the lu­cra­tive trade in skins and other body parts. Soon af­ter­wards, the au­thor­i­ties in Delhi seized al­most 500kg (1,100lb) of tiger bones.

In 2010, the Global Tiger Fo­rum was es­tab­lished. Tiger ex­perts came to­gether to try to stop, or re­duce, the il­le­gal trade by pro­mot­ing anti-poach­ing mea­sures and work­ing with com­mu­ni­ties to get peo­ple on the tigers’ side. Cam­paign­ers are also try­ing to change at­ti­tudes in China. Con­ser­va­tion sci­en­tists have iden­ti­fied five ar­eas in In­dia, cov­er­ing 60,000 square miles in all, that of­fer the tiger its best chance of sur­vival. To­gether these re­gions can pro­vide enough food for 1,000 tigers. The am­bi­tious but worth­while plan is to dou­ble wild tiger num­bers by 2022.

TIGER HUGS: Raj Bhera keeps her cubs hid­den safely away in a den

Biba, Raj Bhera’s fe­male cub, meets her fa­ther at a pool – a rare in­ci­dent as males usu­ally have no role in rais­ing cubs. He would have killed her if he hadn’t recog­nised she was his

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