FACTBOX: The tiger's losing struggle to survive
(Reuters) - The number of tigers in India has plummeted to around 1,411, nearly half the previous estimate, according to a government survey.
Here are some key facts about the tiger:
- The largest of all cats, the tiger is one of the most fearsome predators in the world. It can weigh up to 450 kg (1,000 lb) and measure around 10 feet from nose to the tip of the tail.
- Tiger numbers in the wild are thought to have plunged from 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to between 5,000 and 7,000 today.
They now inhabit the forests of Asia -- including India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Burma, China and Malaysia.
- A century ago, there were about 40,000 tigers in India but the census carried out in 2001 and 2002 said there were 3,642 tigers.
In January 2006 India began a new census to count its tigers -- using specially designed computer programs to avoid duplication in recording pugmarks.
- Three tiger subspecies: the Bali, Javan and Caspian have become extinct in the past 70 years.
The five remaining subspecies: Amur, Bengal, Indochinese, South China and Sumatran are all seriously threatened and are listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as endangered.
- Threats to tigers include destruction of their habitat and poaching, as a result of increasing demand for tiger parts such as skins and bones for traditional Asian medicine.
Although the trade in tiger parts is illegal, a single animal skin can fetch up to $50,000 on the international black market.
Sources: Reuters, World Wildlife Fund (www.panda.org), Save the Tiger Fund (www.savethetigerfund.org).
(Writing by Karthik Subbaraman and Nagesh Narayana; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)