Tiger beat

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1995:

Tigers could decline past the point of viability in the wild within 10 years and be extinct in the wild
with 20 years, International Union for the Conservation of Nature cat specialist group chair Peter Jackson warned
on March 12, while lauding a March 2 agreement between China and India to protect tigers along their disputed
frontier, and a similar deal reached on March 6 among Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, which share circa 500
wild tigers. China reportedly has about 80 wild tigers left, divided among three different species.
Fifty-seven Siberian tigers have been born since 1986 at the Hengdaozi Breeding Centre in northeast-
ern Heilongjiang province, China, of whom 53 have survived, the Xinhua news agency reported on February 21.

No more than 300 Siberian tigers remain in the wild.
The World Wildlife Fund, itself not known for close accounting, has formed a special fund in India to
prevent misuse of donations to save tigers. Formerly, aid for tigers went to the Indian government––which was
caught last year significantly inflating estimates of the surviving wild tiger population. Officially, India still has
3,750 tigers, 600 fewer than in 1989; unofficially, it may have no more than 2,000 tigers.
Fourteen out of 100 Australian practitioners of
Oriental medicine surveyed undercover by the World Wildlife
Fund illegally sell tiger parts, WWF reported on March 7.
Belgium is the world’s second-largest importer of
poached tiger products,
says the London-based
Environmental Investigation Agency, while the European
Union is collectively the leading market for threatened plants,
parrots, tortoises, reptile skins, and snakes, despite
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species bans
on traffic in many of the species involved. Italy, Spain, and
Greece, says the EIA, are lax in enforcing import rules, while
the relaxation of border inspections between EU member nations
has cut the odds of traffickers getting caught.
Thai Royal Forestry Department advisor Pamtap
Ratanakom has recommended that the government of Thailand
should permit farming tigers for their hides, bones, and geni-
tals. Exports would be banned under CITES, but each tiger
could fetch $10,000 just on the domestic market. One would-be
producer, the Siracha Farm in Bangkok, already has 35 tigers,
says director Somphong Temsiriphong. Females are bred every
six months––about twice as often as they would breed in nature.
Burma forestry minister Lieutenant-General Chit
Swe called on the nation February 8 to give priority to protecting
endangered species including 45 mammals, tigers among them;
39 birds; and 36 reptiles. Burma has 17 forest preserves and
wildlife sanctuaries, but other members of the ruling dictator-
ship have been accused of ravaging them with illegal logging.
Bangladesh on February 3 announced a $1.5 million
effort to protect and increase the numbers of tigers in the
Sundarbans forest, home of about 450 royal Bengal tigers.
There were about 600 before the cyclone of April 1991, which
killed up to 138,000 people and seriously damaged the habitat.
Protected since 1982, the tigers are often targets of poachers.
The Carson and Barnes Circus on February 10
recaptured a 200-pound tiger named Shawana, who spent 10
days in the wild along the Texas/Oklahoma border after squeez-
ing out of her cage. Although Shawana had never hunted, she
apparently didn’t miss many meals. Afraid she might starve,
the circus left chunks of meat in the area where she was believed
to be, a boon both to the tiger and to local cougars and coyotes.
Veterinarian Luis Aleu, of Pamplona, Spain,
nursed a malnourished Bengal tiger cub back to health for the
Circo Mundial traveling circus––and was stuck with the tiger
plus $4,700 in food bills when the circus refused to take the tiger
back. “I really don’t know what I’m going to do,” Aleu told
reporters in mid-February.”
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