POWERFUL CREATURES IN PERIL
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