After the border and Arunachal Pradesh rows, tiger and leopard poaching has become the latest flashpoint between India and China. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has accused China of having an incessant demand for the body parts of the wild cats, which is responsible for poaching and smuggling of tigers and leopards out of India via Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand.
Ramesh, on the sidelines of Environment Pollution Index conference, said the endangered species face an indirect threat from the dragon, saying New Delhi would take up the issue with Beijing next month.
He said, "This is a serious issue. There is a lot of smuggling of tiger and leopard parts across the Indo-Nepal border into China and across the Indo-Myanmar border into Thailand and subsequently into China. As you know in East Asia, particularly in China, there is a belief that tiger and leopard parts add to the potency of medicine and also used as aphrodisiac. So, there's a huge demand. And the year 2010 is the Chinese year of the Tiger. So there will be a demand for tiger parts and leopard parts. And the Chinese breed tigers in captivity. That also increases the demand for wild tiger parts."
"Now I have raised this with the Chinese when I was there in Beijing two months ago. We are sending a delegation to China next month, early part of November. It's a tough issue. The Chinese are not particularly co-operative," added Jairam.
Illegal poaching and loss of natural habitat have caused India's tiger population to plummet in recent decades, even in large swathes of land protected as tiger reserves. India's latest tiger census counted just above 1,400 cats, down from around 3,700 in 2002 and around 40,000 a century ago.
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