From: Reuters
Published August 28, 2006 12:00 AM

Thousands Search for India's Tigers

NEW DELHI — Tens of thousands of forest workers are fanning out across India's jungles and national parks to count the country's endangered tigers, officials said on Friday.

The exercise involves 88,000 forest workers who have been given designated areas in various wildlife sanctuaries.

India has half the world's surviving tigers, but conservationists say the country is losing the battle to save the big cats. There were about 40,000 tigers in India a century ago, but decades of poaching have cut their number to 3,700.

Concerns have again risen after a sharp decline in the number of the tiger population was reported -- with one national park near New Delhi saying last year it had no tigers left.

Earlier tiger counts had been done solely by spotting their pugmarks but conservationists said that method was faulty, mainly due to varying soil and weather conditions.

The new method involves actual sightings of the animal apart from spotting and capturing on camera their pugmarks and faeces. DNA sampling will also be used.

"The (new) methodology is a basket of all published techniques put together for application," said Y.V. Jhala of the the Wildlife Institute of India.

Conservationists have in the past expressed reservations over the accuracy of government figures on tiger populations.

Source: Reuters

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