Crunch time for the wild tiger With the world’s population of wild tigers now estimated at just 3,200, campaigners say only urgent action – not words – can save the species. A child born in the Chinese zodiac’s Year Of The Tiger, it is said, will become courageous, dynamic and powerful, a born leader who will inspire respect and affection. But for actual tigers born in this auspicious year, which started on February 14 and ends on February 2, 2011, the outlook isn’t so good. The last Tiger year was 12 years ago and since then the numbers of tigers living wild around the world has almost halved. The global wild tiger population may now be as low as 3,200, a 95 per cent drop from 100 years ago,’ says Diane Walkington, head of species at wildlife charity WWF. And their habitat is 40 per cent less than just ten years ago. If we don’t take action now, numbers could drop so low they may reach a point of no return in many parts of Asia within the next ten years.’ The decrease is largely due to loss of habitat to mining, logging, farming and development, and an escalation in poaching for skins, bones and other body parts used in traditional medicines. Weak law enforcement has failed to stop tiger poaching, while smuggling operations continue to move tiger products across borders. The internet also poses a threat, with online sales of tiger products. At a recent CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) meeting in Doha, the secretary-general admitted efforts to protect tigers had failed miserably’. And though more promises were made, conservation groups say action and enforcement are needed more than words. China, with...
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