Estimates in 2005 indicate an approximate worldwide population of 4,500
Bengal Tigers: The bulk of the population of about 3000 individuals live
The Bengal Tiger is now strictly protected, and is the national animal of
both Bangladesh and India. After the resounding success of the Tiger
conservation program in India known as Project Tiger, the population of
wild tigers has increased dramatically.
But since the early 1990s, the tiger population has suffered a setback
due to habitat destruction and the large scale poaching of these
animals for their skins and bones. The Indian government is trying hard
to show the world that the tiger is thriving in India, often using
controversial techniques like taking moulds of paw prints to track tiger
populations. It was recently discovered that tigers were wiped out from
one of Project Tiger's leading sanctuaries, Sariska, much to the
embarrassment of the government. Some believe that the actual tiger
population in India could be less than 2,000.
Habitat loss and poaching are important threats to species survival.
Poachers kill tigers not only for their pelts, but also for components to
make various traditional East Asian medicines. Other factors
contributing to their loss are urbanization and revenge killing. Farmers
blame tigers for killing cattle and will shoot them.
Captive breeding: Indian zoos have bred tigers since 1880. In the last
two decades they have bred so successfully that there are now too
many. Unfortunately other subspecies of tigers brought by dealers from
outside India over the years have been mixed with Indian tigers, so that
many zoo tigers are of questionable lineage and therefore not
appropriate for conservation purposes. The 1997 International Tiger
Studbook lists the current global captive population of Bengal tigers at
210 tigers. All of the studbook-registered captive population is
maintained in Indian zoos, except for one female Bengal tiger in North
America. Completion of the Indian Bengal Tiger Studbook is a necessary
prerequisite to establishing a captive management program for tigers in
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Kingdom of the Tiger
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