India's tiger country: Where anger
comes in on giant cat feet
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
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
The Chand gang reportedly worked with smugglers in Nepal and Tibet,
who used mules and yaks to ferry the contraband across the mountains
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
Indian tiger park 'has no
One of India's main tiger
parks - Panna National Park -
has admitted it no longer has
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. ...
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
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
India tigers 'in rapid decline'
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
Tiger, tiger, boiling in the pot
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
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
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
“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
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,”
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
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
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
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
The fear is that poachers
will target the lions because there are so
few tigers left to go after.