Fewer than 50 wild tigers left in China
Fewer than 50 wild tigers left in China: conservation group
AFP, 8 February 2010, 08:29pm IST
BEIJING: Fewer than 50 wild tigers remain in China, a conservation group said today, voicing hope that the Year of the Tiger would not be the last for the endangered cats.
Xie Yan, director of the China programme for the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said that just 20 years ago tigers still roamed across large swathes of China.
But based on data from the year 2000, there are only around 15 Bengal tigers left in Tibet, 10 Indochinese tigers in China's southwest, and around 20 Siberian tigers in the northeast, she told reporters.
And the South China tiger may already be extinct. According to the international conservation group WWF, none have been spotted in the wild since the late 1970s. In the 1950s, there were around 4,000.
Degradation of the animal's habitat and poaching of the tiger and its prey are blamed for its rapid disappearance.
China banned international trade in tiger bones and related products in 1993, but completely stamping out poaching and illegal trade has been a challenge due to weak law enforcement, experts have said.
"Tiger conservation has been depressing for many years, (numbers) keep dropping and dropping," Xie said.
"But last year is the first year I've felt a lot of confidence from the support of the central government, the State Forestry Administration, and the local governments," she added.
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