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 user 2005-04-14 at 10:16:00 am Views: 49
  • #8845
    UN warns India over tiger numbers

    The UN has appealed to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to
    take action to save the Indian tiger.

    Willem Wijnstekers, head of the UN Convention on International Trade in
    Endangered Species (Cites), asked in an open letter for talks with Mr Singh.

    Cites fears that India’s population of wild tigers – the world’s largest – is
    increasing falling prey to poachers.

    It says it does not want to embarrass India but making the letter public is a
    last-ditch attempt to save the tigers.

    Writing to India’s prime minister is an unusual step and this letter is

    But the UN body says the slowness with which India seems to be implementing
    anti-poaching measures could be seen as a lessening of its commitment to Cites –
    and India has signed the convention.

    ‘Sophisticated networks’

    India’s population of tigers in the wild is dwindling.

    Official estimates of around 3,500 animals are thought by conservationists to
    be an exaggeration.

    And although it is 30 years since former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
    started Project Tiger to protect the species, numbers have not increased –
    rather the opposite.

    Trade in tiger parts is banned worldwide but it continues.

    Tiger skins are turning up in the apartments of Russian mafia bosses.

    Tiger bones are highly prized by Asia’s gamblers.

    John Seller, the chief enforcement officer of Cites, says poaching has become
    a highly professional operation.

    He says networks of organised criminals gather skins and carcasses and
    smuggle them out of India using sophisticated techniques.

    “If it is accurate that tigers have disappeared entirely from one of India’s
    premier tiger reserves,” he said, “then how [much] more serious can it