Thursday, January 12, 2006

Myanmar's tigers down to 150 from over 3000 in 1980

YANGON: Myanmar's wildlife department plans to step up the fight against poaching of tigers, alarmed by the decline in the big cat population to about 150 from over 3,000 in 1980.

Myanmar was estimated to have over 3,000 Bengal and Indo-China tigers in 1980, the second in Asia after India.

However, according to the latest figures by the forestry department, only about 150 tigers remain in the Hukuang Tiger Reserve, claimed to be the world's largest.

The tiger data collection of the forestry department was jointly carried out with the co-operation of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) since 1998 with the use of a camera trap as well as modern scientific methods, the local ‘7-Day’ weekly said on Wednesday.

The Hukuang Tiger Reserve, located in northern Kachin state, was established in 2004 and covers about 22,000 sq km. Some 25,000 people also live in the reserve.

In the wake of the threat of extinction of the big cats, Myanmar wildlife police and forest rangers plan to step up combating wildlife trade and crimes in the tiger reserve. Special training programs have been introduced jointly by the Myanmar forest department and the WCS.

The authorities have called for creating a balance between the needs of local communities and the wildlife, which constitutes a major challenge for them.

Tigers are facing extinction all over the world mainly due to the international trade in body parts destined for the Asian traditional medicine market, wildlife biologists said.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar authorities have warned traditional medicine practitioners in the country to avoid using tiger bones in producing their medicinal products to help conserve the endangered animal.

Tigers are on the ‘completely protected’ list under the Protection of Wildlife and Conservation of Natural Areas Law of Myanmar since 1994.,curpg-2.cms

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 150 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625

813.920.4130 fax 885.4457 cell 493.4564

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