‘Tigers may be the first to vanish’

‘Tigers may be the first to vanish’

Posted online: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 11:43:08
Updated: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 11:43:08

New Delhi, June 11: Tigers are likely to be the first species of large predator to vanish in historic times if their population continues to decline, according to the World Bank.

“To secure the future of tiger in the wild and save it from poachers, financial and material resources and a strong policy commitment is needed,” it said while listing poaching, prey depletion, forest degradation and habitat loss as main reasons for the declining population.

Its existing wild populations inhabit fragmented and isolated patches of land, constituting a meager seven per cent of their historic range, it said.

“If current trends persist, tigers are likely to be the first species of large predator to vanish in historic times,” the World Bank said in a statement after joining a worldwide alliance of conservationists, scientists and celebrities.

Tiger numbers have declined from over 100,000 a century ago to just 4,000 today with 3,000 of them in India. Saying that the animals have become an enforcement dependent species, the Bank said the tiger population health is an indicator of biodiversity and a barometer of sustainability.

The Bank and its partners plan to assess financing needs and work with governments and the private sector for tiger conservation.

“Since tigers are at the top of the food chain, the conservation of wild tigers also means preservation of the habitats in which they live and the prey populations that support them,” it said in a statement.

International Tiger Coalition spokesperson Grace Ge Gabriel said nothing short of global action will bring back wild tigers.

The Tiger Conservation Initiative will start with a series of dialogues in tiger range countries to find out what has worked locally to protect the tigers.

“Tigers occupy only seven per cent of their historical range and about 40 per cent less than they did just a decade ago,” said John Seidensticker, Head of the Conservation Ecology Center at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. “A business-as-usual approach is not sustaining wild tigers today.”



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