Thursday, May 29, 2008

Officials have warned that poaching is still threatening tigers in Vietnam.

Officials have warned that poaching is still threatening tigers in Vietnam.

The Vietnam News reported that the latest government figures suggest that only around 100 tigers survive in the wild in the country, down from over 300 just a decade ago.

This is despite the fact that tigers have been listed in Vietnam's Red Book of Endangered Species for some years.

According to the report, this has done little to curb the illegal killings of the animals. It pointed to the fact that "tiger skins, teeth and bones can be readily purchased in major cities".

What's more, it appears smugglers are getting bolder. Last year, police seized two live tigers in the city of Ha Noi. One official explained to the paper: "This was the first time that live tigers were smuggled through an urban area. It indicates that the perpetrators knew what they were doing and had done it before."

Finally, the report warned that there has been an alarming rise in illegal tiger breeding across Vietnam.

Some reports estimate that fewer than 2,500 tigers survive in the wild across the whole globe.


Sahyadri is now a tiger reserve

Sahyadri is now a tiger reserve
Ashwin Aghor
Wednesday, May 28, 2008 02:11 IST

It will be the first reserve in western Maharashtra and fourth in the state

After several months of deliberation, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has finally declared Sahyadri as a tiger reserve.

The 741.22 sq km reserve will be the first in western Maharashtra and the fourth in the state after Melghat, Tadoba-Andhari and Pench Tiger Reserves.

In a meeting held on May 21, the NTCA also cleared creation of four more reserves in the country — Sunabeda in Orissa, Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, Ratapani in Madhya Pradesh, and Nagarahole National Park in Karnataka.

A three member expert committee comprising B Majumdar, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), Dr Nand Kishore, chief conservator of forests (CCF), and wildlife conservationist Kishor Rithe was formed for identification and demarcation of tiger habitats. Though the committee had proposed to declare four areas — Sahyadri, Tadoba, Pench and Melghat — as critical tiger habitats on December 30, 2007, they had recently resubmitted the proposal for declaring Sahyadri as a reserve.

"Our consistent efforts have finally yielded result. Sahyadri being declared a tiger reserve is a blessing as it will help us get more funds to develop it," said Majumdar.

Nature-lovers who have been lobbying for the reserve are happy. Rithe, a member of State's Critical Tiger Habitat Expert Committee, had recently met union minister S Regupathy to convince him of the importance of the reserve. Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust and other environmentalist had also supported the proposal.

Sahyadri Tiger Reserve will include 317.67 sq km of Chandoli National Park and 423.55sq km of Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary. The Chandoli National Park was formed in 2004 while Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary was formed in 1985. The central government has also announced Rs10 lakh resettlement package for each family living in the 15 villages near the two sanctuaries. According to the 2007 census, the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve is estimated to have nine tigers and 66 leopards.

Tiger on the loose in central Vietnam plains

Tiger on the loose in central Vietnam plains

An investigation launched by local authorities in a central province after a farmer reported hearing a tiger growling near his home last week found the animal's footprints in the vicinity.

The forestry unit of Phu My District in the central province of Binh Dinh reported the strange footprints found on a farmland of My Hiep Commune, which is located at the foot of a mountain, belonged to a Panthera tigris – the largest species of tiger.

"Measurements of the steps, jumps and footprints showed that the tiger is about 1.3 to 1.6-meter long and weighs more than 100 kilograms," the unit reported.

Deputy Head of the unit Nguyen Dinh Thanh told Thanh Nien the footprints extended for 300 meters on the farmland.

"The tiger came from the forest from the headwaters area, based on what the footprints revealed," he said.

Le Van Phi, the head of the unit, suggested that perhaps disturbance in the forest caused the tiger to roam about in search of another home, although he added that it is very rare in Vietnam for a wild tiger to venture into a residential area alone.

Nguyen Viet Cuong, head of the communal People's Committee, said such an unprecedented case was creating panic among locals even though no one has yet to see the beast.

Phu My People's Committee has ordered authorities of My Hiep and My Hoa communes, which are located near the scene of the footprints, to ban residents from entering or pasturing animals in proximity of the forest.

Tiger tracks spotted near residential area

Tiger tracks spotted near residential area


Footprints of a tiger over 100kg were spotted about 1 km from the Hoa Nghia residential area in the central province of Binh Dinh's Phu My District.

Phu My authorities on Monday warned locals to avoid the forest near the Dai Son water tank in My Hiep village. The local forestry office is working to protect the tiger which has so far caused no harm to the village.

Rawalpindi Express to campaign for Royal Bengal tiger

Rawalpindi Express to campaign for Royal Bengal tiger

May 28th, 2008 - 5:44 pm ICT by admin

By Soudhriti Bhabani
Kolkata, May 28 (IANS) Cricket lovers, of course, know Shoaib Akhtar well as Rawalpindi Express whose on-field achievements and off-field controversies are many. Now he is to dabble in a field that is far removed from cricket. Akhtar has shown his inclination to do his bit for the conservation of the Sundarbans bio-diversity and its precious possession - Royal Bengal Tiger. He has also promised to come back to the world's largest mangrove-rich delta next year to do some charitable effort for the wildlife in the region.

"He is extremely interested to do something for the protection of wildlife in the Sundarbans and the conservation of bio-diversity in the deltaic region. He asked me for the way he could help us and I requested him to campaign for the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in the days to come," Sundarbans Tiger Reserve director Niraj Singhal told IANS Wednesday.

He said Akhtar also assured him that he would come back and raise some funds for the wildlife in the Sundarbans next year.

Singhal said: "Akhtar has got a very high media profile. If he can campaign for the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve and the bio-diversity of the delta, it will help us to generate further awareness amongst the young generations globally."

He said Akhtar has plans for the protection of wild animals in the Sundarbans. "He has already shared some of these plans with us."

During his visit to the Sundarbans from Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon, Akhtar spent time with villagers and went across the mangrove region on a boat.

"We want him to make an appeal to our next generation for conserving the wildlife in the Sundarbans. We would also like to have Akhtar in some of our anti-poaching campaigns and other awareness activities in future," said Singhal.

The Sundarbans, a vast 10,000 sq km tract of forest and saltwater swamp, is formed at the lower part of the Ganges delta extending about 260 km along the Bay of Bengal from the Hooghly River estuary in India to the Meghna River estuary in Bangladesh.

The Sundarbans, a world heritage sites declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), is a part of the world's largest delta formed by the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna.

The whole tract of forest from the confluence reaches inland for about 100-130 km.

According to environmental experts, the region is now under severe threat of global warming. In the past two decades, four Sundarbans islands - Bedford, Lohachara, Kabasgadi and Suparibhanga - have sunk into the sea and 6,000 families have been displaced from their villages.

A recent survey done by Jadavpur University's department of oceanographic studies suggests that the Sundarbans would lose another 15 percent of its total habitable land, displacing over 30,000 people, by 2020.

Heat is on: Three tigers fall prey

Heat is on: Three tigers fall prey
29 May 2008, 0227 hrs IST,Avijit Ghosh,TNN

NEW DELHI: Summer can be dangerous for the endangered tiger. Three more tigers have been killed this May by bullets, iron trap and poison — one each in Bihar, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. That apart, one tiger skin has been seized in Maharashtra.

"Poachers are most active during the summer months. This is when most waterholes dry up. The vegetation dies. Poachers can also comfortably camp out and it is easy to follow their target. Prices for tiger parts such as skins, bones and other parts have skyrocketed, and this summer there is more incentive for poachers than ever before," says Belinda Wright of Wildlife Protection Society of India. According to the latest census released in February this year, about 1,400-1,500 tigers survive in India.

At the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar's west Champaran district, a tiger was ensnared in a brutal leg-hold trap. The animal died later. Wildlife activists believe the modus operandi carries the signature of poachers from the hunting tribe, Bawariya. Records show some members of the tribe have been involved in wildlife crimes in different parts of India. S Chandrashekhar, DFO, Valmiki reserve, says a new form of trap was laid out for the big cat.

But he is "undecided whether it was the handiwork of the locals or poachers from outside". Back in December 2006, paramilitary forces looking after the Indo-Nepal border had seized one tiger skin at Valmiki reserve. The tiger reserve, bordering Nepal's Royal Chitwan National Park, is vulnerable to poaching. In fact, two years ago, Nepal forest officials had raided a Bawariya camp in Birganj, a Nepal border town, and seized leopard and tiger skins.

On May 16, another tiger was found dead of suspected poisoning in the outer section of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. P P Singh, deputy director of the reserve says that "the post-mortem reports are unclear about the tiger's cause of death". According to him, it is possible the tiger was a victim of man-animal conflict. "A tiger had killed two villagers a few months ago and this could be a revenge killing," he says.

But Singh also points out that four poachers belonging to the Bawariya tribe were arrested in these parts in 2007 for killing a tiger. In Karnataka's Kodagu district, a tiger was shot dead allegedly by a local plantation owner on the border of the Brahmagiri sanctuary. The man has been arrested. "It was a deliberate, cold-blooded murder where an unlicensed gun was used. The killer had even chopped off the tiger's legs and taken out its claws," says K S N Chikkerur, IGP (CID) Forest, Karnataka. But the top cop admits that poachers are active in these parts. "They do come down and operate here," he says. That's more bad news for the tigers.

Shoppers urged to go wild for tiger loaves

Shoppers urged to go wild for tiger loaves
Last updated 11:54, Thursday, 22 May 2008

For every loaf of tiger bread sold at Asda, in Walney Road, a percentage is donated to The Sumatran Tiger Conservation Programme.

Asda handed over a £397.55 cheque to South Lakes WildAnimal Park, which houses Sumatran tigers as part of a scheme to help protect the species from extinction.

Demand for tiger parts, which are used in folk remedies, together with habitat loss, is pushing these tigers to extinction.

The zoo plays a vital role in tiger conservation and education. Last year the park was the largest fund-raiser for Sumatran tigers anywhere in the world and The Sumatran Tiger Conservation Programme was the largest programme for Sumatran tigers.

Over the past month Asda has made a donation to the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Programme for every packet of tiger chest, tiger paws and tiger tails sold.

Education and marketing manager at the zoo, Karen Brewer, said: "We want people to use their loaf and earn their stripes and buy tiger bread from Barrow's Asda."

Tiger baby boom welcome news in India

WWF News Centre
Tiger baby boom welcome news in India

23 May 2008
No less than 14 tiger cubs have been seen recently in Ranthambore National Park, a tiger reserve in western Indian state of Rajasthan.

According to the park managers, the cubs belong to different mothers and some other tigresses are pregnant. Some experts said they got information about cubs sightings in other reserves as well.

"This is great news. If we get new tigers cubs, it means that their habitat is good and that Ranthambore offers good conditions for breeding", said Sujoy Banerjee, WWF India Director of Species Conservation.

Nonetheless, poachers are always a major threat on tigers and the big cats remain vulnerable, even inside reserves. Habitat loss is another threat on them.

Ranthambore NP covers an area of some 400 km2 and is one of India's Project Tiger reserves. This wildlife conservation project was initiated by the country in 1972 with the help and funding of WWF.

The management reported a population of 32 tigers when the latest census was published earlier this year. In 2004 the park was home to 46 animals.

Tigers are poached for their body parts, with the market being a key source of demand.

This trade is illegal but a single dead tiger can fetch up to $50.000 in the black market.

Skewed sex ratio: Tigresses to be introduced in Panna Reserve

Skewed sex ratio: Tigresses to be introduced in Panna Reserve
Sunday, May 25, 2008

New Delhi (PTI): The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has approved rpt approved a plan to increase the number of tigresses in Madhya Pradesh's Panna Tiger reserve where they are outnumbered by their male counterparts, leaving little choice for mating for the latter.

"The NTCA has recently approved a proposal to introduce wild tigress from the nearby tiger parks to the Panna region spread over Vindhyan Range of the Northern states," authority's member secretary Rajesh Gopal told PTI here.

"Because of the imbalance in the tiger population, the officials at the reserve are obviously in a piquant situation.

Skewed sex ratio in favour of male will no doubt threaten the population of the striped animal," Gopal said, explaining that usually two or three tigress and a male tiger is the most economical sex ratio.

He said a male tiger usually establishes a large territory which includes two or three small territories of the females which share the area without any hostility with their male counterparts.

Though, he said it was not easy to estimate the number of male and female big cats left in the region, "but the skewed sex ratio effects breeding which in turn will have adverse impact on future population."

Late last year, at the behest of Environment Ministry, a team of experts visited the region to gauge the situation following reports that there were very few tigresses.

In its report, the team recommended immediate steps to set the ratio right before "the Sariska like episode is repeated in the region."

Roaring Again?

Roaring Again?

Tiger count goes up in TN

Chennai, May 24: Tamil Nadu has reported a rise in the tiger count at a time when the big cat population is dwindling in other parts of the country.

The latest survey shows that the southern state has bucked the trend and its tiger population has jumped from 62, according to the last census three years ago, to 76 in the latest count, S. Balaji, the chief conservator of forests, Tamil Nadu, said.

The tiger population has shown an impressive growth in the Kalakkadu-Mundanthurai tiger reserve in Tirunelveli district, close to Kerala.

The government has now sanctioned Project Tiger schemes in two more forest areas — Mudumalai and Anamalai — Balaji said here.

Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India has come up with the figures.

The pug mark method as well as the photo trap method were used for double verification, Balaji said.

Stating that 17.59 per cent of the land was currently under forest cover in Tamil Nadu, Balaji said the rise in the tiger population was a solid indication that the "extent to which the eco-system and bio-diversity were being conserved in the state".

However, Balaji said there was little scope for increasing the forest cover, though there are opportunities for increasing the tree cover in all types of land.

Orissa gets approval for second tiger reserve

Orissa gets approval for second tiger reserve

KalingaTimes Correspondent

Bhubaneswar, May 23: The National Tiger Conservation Authority has given its `in principle' approval for creation of Sunabeda Tiger Reserve in Orissa.

The proposed Sunabeda Tiger Reserve, extending over 956.17 sq km area, is situated in Nuapada district bordering the state of Chhattisgarh to the west of Orissa, encompasses the Sunabeda wildlife sanctuary with an area of 591.75 sq km and the Patdhara forest block to its south over 364.42 sq km.

The existing Sunabeda wildlife sanctuary, which was created in 1983, has about 32 tigers 40 leopards as per the 2004 census of the State government.

The faunal characteristics of the proposed Tiger Reserve include a population of wild buffalo migrating between Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

The first tiger reserve of the State, Similipal Tiger Reserve in Mayurbhanj district, was created in 1973.

The `in principle' approval for the proposed Sunabeda Tiger Reserve was given when the National Tiger Conservation Authority held its meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The Authority said decided that four new Tiger Reserves will be created in the country and one park will be treated as a separate Reserve.

The reserves include Sunabeda Tiger Reserve, Shahyadri Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra , Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in Uttar Pradesh and Ratapani Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh.

All four states concerned had earlier submitted proposals to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The Authority also accorded an approval on the proposal from Karnataka to treat Nagarahole National Park as a separate reserve which was a part of Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

Five sanctuaries to get tiger reserve status

Five sanctuaries to get tiger reserve status
23 May 2008, 1742 hrs IST,PTI

NEW DELHI: Five wildlife sanctuaries in the country will soon be getting tiger reserve status for better management of the conservation plans for the big cat in its core habitat.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority in a meeting held recently has given an "in-principle" approval to four new reserves, a senior official said on Friday.

These are Sunabeda Tiger Reserve in Orissa, Shahyadri Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra, Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in Uttar Pradesh and Ratapani Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh.

All the four states had submitted proposals to the Union Environment Ministry seeking tiger reserve status to the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.

The Authority also accorded approval on a proposal from Karnataka to treat Nagarahole National Park, which was a part of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, as a separate reserve for the big cat, the official said.

Getting tiger reserve status will help the parks secure more Central funds for protection of the endangered animal.

The four new tiger reserves are in addition to the eight parks for which clearance was given in January. At present, there are 28 tiger reserves in the country.

The meeting held under the chairmanship of Minister of State for Environment and Forests S Regupathy also discussed the reports of the committees constituted by the Authority for refinement of monitoring process and strategy for tiger reserves affected by extremist disturbances.

"The Authority also took note of the recent all India tiger estimation findings, and protection strategy in tiger reserves," the officials said.

The Authority approved several other proposals, including funding support for research and monitoring through the Wildlife Institute of India and radio telemetry monitoring of tigers.

Support to NGOs for capacity building, research and tiger estimation and tiger reintroduction proposals were also given green signal at the meeting.

It's a roaring tiger season in Vidarbha

It's a roaring tiger season in Vidarbha

Thu, May 22 02:33 AM

Though four tigresses with 15 cubs have been sighted in the forests of Vidarbha, Forest Department officials say they have decided to close the sensitive sighting areas to tourists, whose unruly behaviour threatens to upset the delicate balance of the area. The move to ban tourists comes in the wake of a disturbing incident in the Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary on May 10 when 41 vehicles clogged a small section of the tourist track to see a tigress and her young cubs.

The tourists started shouting and jumping out of their vehicles to get close to the animals, ignoring the warnings of the guides and forest staffers. In a state of panic, the tigress ran to the safer side of the road, leaving her two cubs stranded on the other side. Before the mother could help them cross, two bisons started chasing the five-month old cubs inside the forest even as the tigress watched helplessly.

Shockingly, the local staff didn't inform the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) B Majumdar about the incident. "I had no report till Monday, but when I investigated, I found that the incident had indeed happened. I have asked the Field Directors of all three tiger reserves (Pench, Melghat and Tadoba-Andhari) and the chiefs of other protected areas to use their discretion in barricading the sensitive areas where tigresses are staying with their cubs," Majumdar said.

Divisional Forest Officer (Gondia) S V Allurwar, who controls Nagzira, confirmed the incident, and said that the cubs were safe. "Only yesterday, were they sighted with the mother by my staff," he added.

Meanwhile, a tigress with four cubs, about one-year-old each, was sighted by the passengers of a bus near Bularghat in Melghat area last month. "Another tigress with three cubs, about one-year-old, has been sighted in Koha area of Melghat," Field Director B S Hooda told The Indian Express.

States vying with each other to get Tiger Reserve status

States vying with each other to get Tiger Reserve status
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Delhi (PTI)" Hoping to save the endangered big cat and other wild animals through funds available under Tiger Project, states are vying with each other to get Tiger Reserve status for their national parks and sanctuaries.

"We are considering four proposals submitted by Maharashtra for Chandoli national park, Orissa (Sunabeda national sanctuary), Madhya Pradesh (Ratapani wildlife sanctuary) and Uttar Pradesh for its terai area at Pilibhit", Rajesh Gopal, member Secretary of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) heading Tiger Project told PTI here.

These proposals will be taken up at the Authority meeting to be held on wednesday, he said.

Budgetary constraints and delay in the release of funds by the states hampering wildlife conservation are some of the reasons for the officials turning towards Project Tiger, he added.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram has allocated a whopping Rs 600 crore this year for Tiger Project.

B Majumdar, Chief Wildlife Warden of Maharashtra told PTI, "We want the inclusion of Chandoli national park spread along the crest of the Sahyadari Range of the Western Ghats, lying between Koyna and Radhanagari Sanctuary among tiger reserves as it has a good predator population."

He said, once covered under Tiger Project the animals and ecosystem of the identified area will be under protection which will go a long way to save the Tiger which is an important chain in the ecosystem.

Presently, Maharasthra has three tiger reserves -- Pench, Melghat and Tadoba Andheri with a total population of 103 tigers as per the latest official estimates.

Nokia India Joins Hands with WWF-India

Nokia India Joins Hands with WWF-India
18 May 2008

Mumbai: Nokia, the leading mobile communications company in India, today announced its partnership with WWF-India, one of the largest conservation organizations in the country, to be involved in WWF-India's Tiger conservation programme. This announcement was jointly made by Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India, and Mr. D Shivakumar, VP and Managing Director, Nokia India, at an event held in Mumbai today.

Mr. Ravi Singh, WWF-India, said, "We are proud to partner with Nokia in India. Globally, Nokia has been involved in several conservation initiatives with the WWF Network and we are happy to see this relationship extend here. This is an important step in bringing corporate institutional support for conservation, significantly tiger conservation, in India. This is an important beginning at this critical time for conservation in our country."

"Nokia is a household name in India. Our commitment to India, to our consumers and to society is a priority for us. This initiative is one such commitment.," said Mr. D. Shivakumar, VP and Managing Director, Nokia India.

"WWF is a tremendous organization and it is our proud privilege at Nokia to be associated with them on this important initiative" he added.

Mr. Ravi Singh quoted "The tiger population in India has seen an alarming decrease with their habitats shrinking and several threats including poaching taking a toll on their survival. To create a healthy ecological balance we need to work towards building long term sustainable models for wildlife conservation such that our future generations can experience the joy and beauty of our varied flora and fauna,"

Speaking on the scope of the partnership, Mr. Singh added, "The tiger conservation project encompasses to address the issues of alternative livelihood for local communities, environmental awareness and communications. The project will also look at some of the critical issues that South Western Ghats are facing today, including biodiversity loss and human wildlife conflict."

The event marked the unveiling of the "Tiger Wall of Hope" by Priya Dutt, Hon'ble Member of Parliament, in the presence of eminent personalities. The Tiger Wall is created out of original pugmarks embedded in Plaster of Paris encased in acrylic.

Speaking about the Tiger Wall, Mr. Singh said, "These pugmarks are a grim reminder of the critical numbers of tigers left in our wild."

During the event, a panel discussion was also organized that deliberated on various factors responsible for the depleting tiger population in India and the role that various sections of the society needs to play. The event was attended by Mr Jamshed N Godrej and his wife and well known bollywood & television stars like Vivek Oberoi, John Abraham, Faroque Sheikh, Dr. Anuj Saxena ,Mini Mathur, Kabir Khan and Kumar Gaurav.

As part of the association, Nokia and WWF-India will work towards providing education to the villagers for sustainable development, increasing awareness on tiger conservation, and identifying alternative livelihood programmes for the villagers around "National Protected Areas" such as Ranthambore national park.

Globally Nokia's environmental strategy is to drive the use of safe substances and materials in products, improve the energy efficiency of products and create effective take-back and recycling programs. Energy efficiency and climate strategy are other important areas of continuous performance improvement by Nokia. In India, Nokia is extending this global vision to focus on local environment through its partnership with WWF.

Nokia has a robust Community Involvement program in Sriperumbudur, Chennai around its manufacturing facility that has contributed immensely in improving the socio-economic fabric of the region and its employees.

About Nokia
Nokia is a world leader in mobile communications, driving the growth and sustainability of the broader mobility industry. Nokia connects people to each other and the information that matters to them with easy-to-use and innovative products like mobile phones, devices and solutions for imaging, games, media and businesses. Nokia provides equipment, solutions and services for network operators and corporations.

About WWF-India
WWF-India is the largest organization engaged in wildlife and nature conservation in the country. Established as a Charitable Trust in 1969, it has an experience of over three decades in the field. With modest beginnings, the organization was propelled forward by the efforts of its founders and associates who volunteered their time and energy to lend momentum to this movement. A part of WWF International, the organization has made its presence felt through a sustained effort not only towards nature and wildlife conservation, but sensitizing people by creating awareness through capacity building and environ-legal activism. A challenging, constructive, science-based organization WWF addresses issues like the survival of species and habitats, climate change and environmental education.

Madhya Pradesh national park gets male tiger

Madhya Pradesh national park gets male tiger

May 18th, 2008 - 8:08 pm ICT by admin

Bhopal, May 18 (IANS) The Van Vihar national park here received its much-awaited male tiger from the Kanha national park in the state. The tiger has been named 'Kanha' after the park from where it was brought. The three-year-old male tiger has been released in the park here to promote breeding of the big cat, a park official said Sunday.

Of the 11 tigresses, seven are physically fit for mating, but Kanha would be kept with either `Ira' or `Basni', two tigresses. Kanha has now been quarantined and after the park authorities study his habits he would be shifted with a tigress to a big enclosure for mating.

"Kanha would first be kept under special observation for at least 15 days for preventing any possible infection," said Atul Gupta, a veterinarian.

It is also necessary to study the nature and habits of the big male before leaving it with any tigress. The mating process is also complex as the tiger basically likes solitude and often attacks any other male tiger, which comes near during the mating period.

After the death of a few male tigers in the recent past, the park was left without any male tiger. The park authorities, who were desperately searching for a male tiger, are now planning to bring a white tiger from either Hyderabad or Guwahati.

`Yishu', the last male white tiger here, died a few months ago. The park has two white tigresses.

The park had three white tigresses but a three-year-old white tigress 'Rashmi' succumbed to a jaw injury she sustained during a brawl with another tigress March 18 this year.

Nine big cats have died at the national park in the past one-and-a-half years, with the last tiger death reported Thursday.

Bhopal Van Vihar has been identified by the Central Zoo Authority for breeding of tigers, but 11 young tigresses have been waiting for a partner for the past five months.

State Minister for Forests Vijay Shah, who formally handed over the tiger to the park authorities Saturday, said: "The arrival of the tiger at the park would help in the breeding programme of the species."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tiger prowling send shock waves in Kodagu

Tiger prowling send shock waves in Kodagu
Madikeri, May : Plight of Coffee Planters and Agriculturists in South Kodagu continued despite one tiger was caught by the forest department and sent to Mysore Zoo and another was shot dead by poachers recently.
Another attack by a tiger has sent a shock wave and it tells of the presence of many more tigers prowling in Kodagu. A tied cow was killed by a tiger during day time at Beeruga Naayikallu near Srimangala.
Owner of the cow Mr Kallangada Ratan in his complaint to forest department said that the cow was killed by a tiger on May 15. The cow was half eaten and was dragged to a distance by the tiger.
ACFO Nagarajachar and staff visited the spot and assured compensation.

Animal farm a death trap - Valmiki tigers easy prey

Animal farm a death trap
- Valmiki tigers easy prey
Issue Date: Sunday , May 18 , 2008
A dead tiger at the sanctuary Telegraph picture 
Valmiki Tiger Reserve (West Champaran), May 17: Big cats are dying a slow death in the 18th national park created to protect the animal, the Valmiki Tiger Reserve.
In 1997 the reserve had 53 tigers. Now it is left with 32.
Even after lakhs of rupees being pumped into it, the park remains the same 880sqkm of unsafe haven due to poachers. A visit by The Telegraph revealed instances of neglect and apathy, man-animal conflicts and violations of Wildlife Protection Act — right under the noses of the forest officers.
Sample this: On May 10, 2008, a 9ft adult Royal Bengal Tiger died near Naurangia village, 340 km from Patna, after its right front limb was enmeshed in a steel trap, set by poachers, for seven hours.
Cow herders from Naurangia who found the wild cat struggling to free its leg said the hapless animal unleashed its pain and fury on a Sahul tree, biting deep into its bark. Forest officers arrived after a while, but without medicine, tranquillisers or any form of medical support. The animal slowly died a painful death before the officials' eyes. When an expert from Patna arrived late in the evening, he saw only the smouldering ashes of the cat at a cremation spot.
This is not an isolated case. Villagers come up with several stories of how poachers from West Champaran, Uttar Pradesh, and adjoining Nepal claim lives with out any official intervention.
Usually poachers prefer steel traps that have sharp nails. The trap is tied to a small but strong steel chain, which, in turn, is tied to an iron rod dug deep into the ground. After trapping an animal, a poacher usually poisons it — to sell its skin, teeth, nails and bones at a high price in the international market.
S.P. Yadav, a tailor at Naurangia village, said: "We hardly see any forest patrolling parties. Everything is left at the mercy of god. It is villagers who inform forest officers when things go out of hand."
Official records in the Valmiki Nagar divisional forest office show no cases of unnatural death in the past two years. But, in the absence of his seniors, a forest guard gave figures. It seems that there were 18 deaths between April 2007 and March 2008 of deer, rhinoceros and peacocks.
Chief forest conservator B.N. Jha said: "Tell us how can we guard a 880sqkm reserve with 65 permanent staffers? Rest of the staffers come on an ad hoc basis and are generally removed after some time.
"I would be happy to use the media to draw the system-in-charge's attention towards the sorry state of affairs at the park. Bihar authorities have one tranquilliser gun that has to be kept at the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park in Patna."
A significant recovery of rhino horns was made in November 2007 by the Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB), which guards the Indo-Nepal border at Valmiki Nagar. But even SSB officers concede it is difficult to check every person crossing the soft border. "We frisk suspicious people but entries are made only of those entering in two, three or four-wheelers," said an SSB officer posted at Gandak Barrage at the border.
Forest employees, too, stress that their hands are tied. "What can we do with dandas (sticks)?" is the common refrain. The reserve has over 300 employees, including the recent deployment of 25 unarmed jawans of Special Auxiliary Police.
Protecting even the core area of 335sqkm is no mean feat. G.K. Pandey, a wildlife expert, said: "It was almost impossible to even venture into the forest till 1994. Counting of tigers by camera is a recent addition. A forester hardly knows where the tigers are minus any tracking system."
The reserve is also witnessing an increasing man-animal conflict. Though the core area has three villages, 25 villages surround the national park. There are a total of 121 villages with over 1.5 lakh population in and around the park. While villagers are not ready to leave their home, Wildlife Protection Act terms them as trespassers living in "prohibited" areas.
Sameer Kumar Sinha, a senior field officer working with Wildlife Trust of India at the reserve, said: "Villagers are a problem. They are not ready to accept the rehabilitation plan offered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, earlier known as Project Tiger."
"Our job is to provide data on ecological distribution of wild animals. Tigers move in and around core the area and very often come into conflict with the humans. The reserve has been declared a prohibited area, but officers can't stop people from entering the forests," he added.
It's not that the reserve lacks funds to spruce up its act. It receives a cumulative central and state government annual budget of Rs 213 lakh. In 2007-08, the Union forest and environment ministry sanctioned Rs 106.663 lakh, besides Rs 81.228 lakh on a pattern of 50:50 sharing with the Bihar government, for the park.

Visit Ranthambore for a 'wild' holiday

Visit Ranthambore for a 'wild' holiday
Harsha Kumari
Friday, May 16, 2008 (Ranthambore)
Ranthambore is known for it's tiger sightings and for the ones who are looking for an audience with the king of the jungle, the Ranthambore National Park is a great weekend getaway, about 140 km from Jaipur.
Ranthambore is well connected both by rail and road and for those wanting a jungle holiday, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Ranthambore is the place to be.
The Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is probably one of the only sanctuaries in the country where one can sight a tiger up close.
''Yes I saw a tiger. First we saw it walking along the road and then by a tree watching the deer as they were coming close,'' said one of the visitor to Ranthambore.
''I gather about 35 tigers here and we were just lucky, it was so close to the lorry that I am glad it had it's breakfast,'' said another visitor.
Safaris at the break of dawn, and a drive through the jungle at dusk are among few exciting Ranthanbore offers.
Between an open gypsy and canters, people vacationing in a large group can pick up their mode of travel.
Most of the routes for tourists run alongside the tigers favourite water holing, making it a great place to sight the big cats.
In the past two years, there has been a baby boom in Ranthambore. They have had 13 new cubs and a visit to this place can get a glimpse of the king of the jungle.
And to take back memories of these majestic animals, Ranthambore also offers a variety of tiger mementos.
The Ranthambore tiger sketches, mostly done in charcoal, are quite famous. T-shirts and souvenirs all add to make an interesting collection of tigeria.
There are hotels to suit everyone's budget in Ranthambore, from luxury five star hotels to those which are light on the pocket but heritage properties can also add a touch of history and romance to the jungle adventure.
The best time to visit Ranthambore is during winter but it is open for guests now too, except between July and September, the three months when it's shut during the monsoons.

Madhya Pradesh lawmaker alleges corruption in tiger conservation project

Madhya Pradesh lawmaker alleges corruption in tiger conservation project
May 17th, 2008 - 8:51 pm ICT by admin
Bhopal, May 17 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh lawmaker and member of a state tiger conservation body Darbu Singh Uike has alleged that corrupt officials have siphoned off millions meant for the conservation of tigers in the state's Kanha National Park. Uike, who is patron of Gondwana Mukti Sena and represents the Paraswada assembly seat, Saturday told reporters here that repeated appeals to the state government by him on the irregularities and corruption in the park have fallen on deaf ears.
"If the state government does not pay attention towards the demands of proper security and conservation of wildlife in Kanha National Park, my party will stage a dharna (protest) in front of the park's main gate and demand resignation of the state forest minister," he said.
"At least one tiger and four sambhars (deer) have died in the buffer zone of the park due to scarcity of water. Similarly, five tigers had died in the Gandhar area of the national park in December," he alleged.

UP to get new tiger reserve in Pilibhit

UP to get new tiger reserve in Pilibhit
17 May, 2008 02:46:16
Lucknow, May 17: The UP government plans to set up a new tiger reserve in Pilibhit.
The new reserve would be spread over an area of approximately 1,000 sq km. It is expected to ease the pressure on the Dudhwa forest reserve that has witnessed a massive depletion of forest cover in recent years, adding to the man-animal conflict in the region.
The new tiger reserve would run through Pilibhit, Kishenpur sanctuary and Khutar range of Shahjahanpur. The Dudhwa forest reserve includes Katarniaghat and Kakraha range of Bahraich division.
Pilibhit, Khutar and Kakraha are reserved forest areas that will be converted into protected areas for the reserves with a slight alteration in the boundaries. The outline for the reserve, as identified by the Critical Tiger Habitat Committee, was sent to the Central government in January this year.
The reserve was sanctioned in this year's budget and forest department has already completed the exercise of delineating its stretch and extent.

Tiger found dead in Kheri forest

Tiger found dead in Kheri forest
18 May 2008, 0301 hrs IST,Neha Shukla,TNN
LUCKNOW: Conservation efforts have failed to check accidental deaths of tigers in Uttar Pradesh. On Saturday morning, body of an adult male tiger was found floating in Sharda canal in Mailani range of South Kheri forest division. This latest casualty paints a grimmer picture for the surviving 109 tigers in the state.
In this case, the forest department has ruled out natural death. "The animal was healthy so we cannot say it died a natural death," said RC Jha, DFO, South Kheri.
The body has no external injury marks. It's only the belly of the animal that is swollen, added Jha. The body has been sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly for autopsy.
The report is expected by Sunday evening. The part of the canal where tiger's body was found floating has swift currents. Tigers can swim through but according to the official version so far, the animal would have lost its balance in the canal due to swift currents and drowned to death. Tiger deaths could be either natural, accidental or a foul-play where animals are even poisoned. "This death is accidental," the DFO claimed.
Poisoning of big cats is usually a possibility when man-eating incidents have been reported from the area of accident or places close to it. It is noteworthy that Mailani range has already been put on the alert by forest department after two man-eating incidents have been reported from there and one from its adjacent range Mohammadi since March. The latest man-eating incident from Mailani was reported on Monday.
In the aforementioned casualty, since poisoning has been ruled out, it is Sharda canal which emerges as the killer. The canal, otherwise the lifeline of Tarai belt, has claimed lives of several tigers in the past.
It has been existing since early 1900s. The velocity of the current has been usually high in this canal. In 1986-87, three tigers had died at the same spot in the canal due to drowning. The deaths were reported within a short span of almost one and a half years. "The deaths were similar in nature to the one that has happened today," said GC Mishra, former field director, Dudhwa.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tigress in Pench reserve forest gives birth to four cubs

Tigress in Pench reserve forest gives birth to four cubs

Bhopal (PTI): Here is a good news from the forests of Pench Tiger Reserve as a tigress on Thursday gave birth to four cubs raising the total number of tiger cubs in the reserve forest area to 16.

At present there are 33 adult tigers in the Pench Tiger Reserve according to the joint wildlife study conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India in association with the Forest Department in the state, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Dr P B Gangopadhyaya has said in a press release.

The Pench Tiger Reserve already has 12 tiger cubs and with the newborn four cubs the total number of cubs in the Pench Tiger Reserve has increased to 16.

The state Forest Minister Vijay Shah has directed the forest officials to ensure the care of newborn cubs and also asked them to share the good news with the visiting tourists.

The Hindu
News Update Service
Thursday, May 15, 2008 : 2115 Hrs

Mudumalai ride routes to change

Mudumalai ride routes to change

D. Radhakrishnan

Udhagamandalam: A new approach to strengthening conservation efforts at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is being evolved, according to Field Director of the Reserve Rajeev Kumar Srivastava.

Mr. Srivastava told The Hindu that the emphasis would be on making local communities supplement the conservation efforts of wildlife officials. Appropriate changes would be made to the routes for elephant and van rides within the reserve.

Tiger conservation would get the highest priority, but equal importance would be given to the protection of other animals and flora.

Pointing out that Mudumalai's stature as a wildlife preserve has gone up following its notification as a tiger reserve, he said that in terms of the rise in tiger numbers it was the topper in the country.

A major source of concern, particularly during the dry months, is forest fires. Enhancing awareness among the local people and visitors about the potential consequences of bush fires would be given priority.

The proliferation of lantena bushes would be checked. Rules governing tiger reserves are stringent; efforts would be made to relocate people living in the core area as early as possible.

The anti-poaching machinery put in place a few years ago would be strengthened. In course of time, better weapons would be provided.

Steps were being taken to set up a well-equipped interpretation centre near the reception area of the reserve. A superior veterinary facility was on the anvil.

A welcome arch featuring thought-provoking slogans would be erected near the Mudumalai-Bandipur border, Mr. Srivastava said.

Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

The education way to tiger protection

The education way to tiger protection

By : Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah

TUMPAT: There are fewer than 500 Malayan tigers left in the jungles of the peninsula. And the biggest threat of extinction comes from man.

The number of tigers are dwindling as habitats are lost to human development and poachers hunt for trophies, exotic dishes and traditional medicine.

More than 100 people living in the border areas were briefed on these and other facts during two seminars organised by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat) and the Wildlife Department.

The seminars, attended mostly by Thai nationals, were held in a local temple at Kampung Kuala Jambu on Thursday night, followed by Kampung Mentua yesterday.

During the 90-minute programme, facilitator Rosli Hamat showed slides of protected animals and led a discussion on poaching, smuggling and other wildlife crimes.

Mycat co-ordinator Loretta Ann Soosayraj said Kelantan was the second state to organise the programme since it was introduced.

The first was in Johor last year.

The rural outreach programme is aimed at creating awareness on the effects of poaching and smuggling protected animals.

It is also designed to encourage people to report to the authorities if protected animals are being hunted in their area.

"We chose Kampung Kuala Jambu and Kampung Mentua as they are located near the border.

"The authorities have discovered that animals are being smuggled into Thailand through Kelantan, before being shipped to China," she said after the programme at Kampung Kuala Jambu.

Soosayraj also said the response to the Tiger SMS Hotline launched last December was overwhelming.

The 24-hour hotline number is 019-3564194.

Kampung Kuala Jambu village headman Eh Sin Eh Sik said the programme taught the villagers which animals to hunt.

"It's an important issue. Some of us are confused about whether or not it is legal to hunt certain animals.

"We don't know which ones are protected and which are not."

Dwindling tiger population of Valmiki Forest Reserve

Dwindling tiger population of Valmiki Forest Reserve

Amitabh Srivastava
May 16, 2008

It was an ill-fated night when a Royal Bengal tiger was ensnared in an iron mesh by suspected poachers from neighbouring Nepal at the Valmiki Tiger Reserve located in West Champaran district in Bihar.

When the trap's jagged metal teeth sunk into its paw, the tiger howled hard-an alarm that was enough to arouse the otherwise sleepy rangers. The tiger's screams kept the poachers at bay, who obviously thought that the rangers would come sooner than they actually did.

For some strange reasons though, the rangers preferred to wait till the crack of dawn. It was too late for the tiger.

Ironically, the tiger's apparent cause of death-besides the injury-was the severe stress that it had to grapple with during the entire night. It vainly struggled to free itself.

By the time, the forest officials could rush help the tiger had reached the point from where it could not have returned.

Forest officials claim that the tiger apparently died out of shock, as a huge crowd had assembled to see the tiger in trap. Obviously, the local rangers failed to clear the space.

But what was worse was the unavailability of guns loaded with tranquilisers that prevented the tiger reserve officials from helping the struggling animal timely, who was obviously not allowing anyone to approach him even in distress.

A big cat had to be tranquilised before one could approach it. Unfortunately, the death occurred before a team carrying the tranquiliser gun reached the place of occurrence.

Bihar Chief Conservator of Forest, MK Sharma said they have picked preliminary inputs, which suggests that an international poacher gang was involved in the killing of the tiger.

"We have constituted a probe committee. I am personally going to visit the Valmiki Tiger Reserve to investigate the incident," he said, adding that it was not prudent on his part to issue statements before completion of the probe.

Bihar's newly appointed Forest and Environment Minister Ramji Rishidev, who earlier promised to bring out the entire details, is tight-lipped over the issue. He refused to comment on the issue.

Sharma's inputs on international gang of poachers may be correct, but that does not really absolve the Tiger reserve officials of their responsibility.

It should not come as a surprise if the reserve officials had an inkling of the incident as they loud cries of the big cat echoed in the reserve. If the poachers had reached the spot timely, there are chances that the officials may have remained oblivious of the tragic death of a tiger.

Bihar has always been dogged by the problem of poaching. This crisis may further worsen due to the booming tiger skin market in China. Eyeing the larger war booties to encash upon from this lucrative business, poachers are trying to quench their new level of greed.

China has always been a huge market of tiger skins, along with ground tiger bones, whiskers and sex organs for use in traditional Chinese medicine. A large, flawless tiger pelt can fetch over Rs four lakhs, while powdered tiger bones also sell for thousands per kilogram. Similarly, Tibet too has become a virtual shopping mall for tigers. Incidentally, Bihar borders Nepal, which is often used as a transit point by smugglers en route to China

Bihar Forest Department sources claim that the poachers, who deal in organs and skins of the wildlife species, often succeed in their ventures because they have tacit support of few locals who have settled on encroached land of the tiger reserve areas under Valmiki forest.

With this tragic death, even by official estimates, Bihar is now left with only 32 tigers-down from 56 tigers that it had in 2002, according to CAG report of 2005-2006.

The report had suggested that as many as 23 tigers had disappeared in between 2002 and 2006.

Sharma, however, refused to comment on the exact number of tigers at the Valmiki Reserve. "Theirs is a floating population. It's difficult to tell the exact number of tigers present in the park at one given time," he said.

Similarly, while the actual poaching figures are not available, sources admit that tiger population has dwindled in Bihar. In 1989, the forest reportedly had 80 tigers. It dipped to 56 in 2002 and 33 in 2005.

The Valmiki Reserve in West Champaran is the 18th forest reserve in the country and is spread over 880.78sqkm in north Bihar. Located close to the Chitwan National Park of Nepal, the Valmiki Forest Reserve was declared a national park in 1989.

Security at the Valmiki Reserve which is home to leopards, deer, black bucks and sloth bears, has never been considered up to the mark.

It is indeed difficult to patrol the rugged terrain, which is also home to dacoits and Naxalites. The Tiger reserve is also severely understaffed, and one forest guard is required to cover 15-20 kms, which is humanly impossible.

The Bagaha-Chitauni broad gauge which is running through the Valmiki Tiger Reserve, a stretches of 6 km, has caused death of many wild animals.

Around 50 trains, passenger and goods trains, pass through this track daily. According to official figures, as many as 17 incidents of animals getting run over have been reported in the last two years.

The forest officials have approached the railways, asking them to stipulate a speed of 20km/h in daytime and 10 km/h during night for the train while they pass through the reserve. But, the railway officials have turned down the request, claiming that the decreased speed would amount to reducing the number of trains on this track almost by half.

But, apart from the killing tracks, it is the poachers that pose the biggest threat to the big cats in Bihar. Observers believe that if this continues, in another five years this feline population will plunge into extinction in Bihar.

Several days have passed since the tragic death of the big cat but the investigation still has not yielded any significant lead so far.

Bihar forest reserve officials have to do a lot of answering as the death of leopard is signalling the unimaginable reach of poachers in the reserve. Hurried and sincere efforts are needed to upkeep the tiger population and the reserve from not being tagged as 'it was once an abode of tigers'.

Rajasthan's tiger relocation move may fail

Rajasthan's tiger relocation move may fail

Harsha Kumari Singh
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 (Jaipur)

The Rajasthan government's ambitious plans to reintroduce the tiger in Sariska could have run into rough weather.

The Ranthambore National Park, which has had a baby boom in the past two years, has now reached it's optimum capacity for tigers and the big cats, especially the new males require more space, thereby pushing the government to go ahead with the plan.

But so far, tigers have never been successfully relocated anywhere in the world though attempts have been made in the past. And with odds in Sariska being against tiger safety, the Rajasthan government's ambitious plan has now come under a cloud.

The government wants to implement the plan because in Sariska, the poachers wiped out the tiger population three years back.

''We will make an enclosure in about one hectare area. Then we will keep expanding that enclosure. Once the tigers settle, we will let them roam free in Sariska,'' Rajasthan's Minister for Environment and Forests Pratap Singh Singhvi said.

The 400 sq kilometre Ranthambore National Park has about 35 tigers and experts believe that the park has now reached it's maximum capacity. But relocating tigers in Sariska has it's own problems as there are still 11 villages located in the middle of the sanctuary and a state highway that cuts across the park is a threat to the animals.

''Ranthambore's success story begins after 16 villages inside the park were moved out and the same thing has to be done in Sariska otherwise there is no point moving tigers there,'' tiger expert Fateh Singh Rathore says.

Under the guidance of scientists from the wildlife institute in Dehradun, there are plans to airlift the tigers in a helicopter from Ranthambore to Sariska. But unless the park is made safe for tigers, the threat of poaching that wiped out the tigers here will continue to haunt Sariska.

Tiger population rising in Ranthambore
Raje govt wants chopper for tiger cubs bound for Sariska

Tigers in Snow Leopard Land

Tigers in Snow Leopard Land

By Tenzing Lamsang

THIMPHU, Bhutan, May 9, 2008 (ENS) - Fresh pictures and pugmarks from the Jigme Dorji National Park show that royal Bengal tigers in Bhutan are being found at altitudes never seen before. In fact, authorities say that the tigers are going so high that they are overlapping the habitat of the elusive snow leopard.

"We've realized that Bhutan is now officially the only country in the world to have tigers at such high altitudes and also the only country where the habitat of the snow leopard and the tiger are overlapping," said Tiger Sangay of the Nature Conservation Division. Sources say that pugmarks and pictures can be seen between 3,700 to 4,300 meters in the latest study.

The study, which started in April 2008, is using 38 strategically placed GPS-marked and infrared-trigger cameras to find out the total number of tigers in the country. At the moment, the study is focused in Jigme Dorji National Park and will move to other parks. According to Tiger Sangay, each tiger has a unique stripe.

The study will also extend to get a solid photographic record of the total number of snow leopards in the country. The rough estimate was around 100 but there is now confirmed data that can support this guesstimate. These cats have been known to reside in heights of up to 5,500 meters coming down to 2,000 meters in the winters.

The implications and reasons for tigers being found at such high altitudes will hopefully emerge from the study. "We may also get data on how the overlapping of territory of these two big cats may be affecting each other, if at all," said Sangay.

"Global warming with warmer temperatures in the higher reaches is a logical but not confirmed explanation," said animal specialist Dr. Sangay Wangchuk of the Nature Conservation Division.

Another possible explanation could also be habitat pressure on tigers forcing them to extend their hunting area upwards with growing habitat disruption at the lower reaches.

Officials also say that the latest data is an indication of the good health of Bhutan's forests because they allow the tiger to easily reach high places due to continuous forest cover in a diverse landscape.

Another explanation, say experts, could be that it may always have been there but it is only now that we are learning about it.

"We're also hoping to see if tigers at these altitudes have developed any extra features by which we can classify them as being different from their cousins in the plains," said Sangay. "We're looking for features like if they're bigger than the plain version or if they have more fur to deal with the cold."

He is already looking forward to compiling a comprehensive report on Bhutan's unique and little known high altitude tigers for scientific journals like "Biological Conservation" and the "Journal of Wildlife Management."

Also, an area of interest will be a study on how tigers and snow leopards are affecting each other. "The worst case scenario will be the bigger tiger going higher and minusing out the smaller snow leopard, since they don't tolerate other predators in their area, but generally we hope that they'll not impact each other nor come into close contact," Sanjay said.

Tigers and snow leopards so far have moved higher and lower, according to season, in winter and summer, but the record altitude of these tigers may also test this theory.

Another fact emerging from the study is that tigers and snow leopards are following the migration pattern of domestic yaks and cattle.

"With 300,000 cattle increasingly penetrating more forest, they're beginning to affect the hunting patterns of these big cats," said Dr. Wangchuk.

Between 2003 to 2006, there were 424 confirmed tiger kills of yaks, cows, horses, bull, mules and sheep.

The last study was done in the Jigme Singye Wangchuck Park where cameras were used in 2006 to get data of tigers there. Old data show that 115 to 150 tigers are found in Bhutan and have been seen in Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, Thrumshingla National Park and also in Manas and Sarpang.

With emerging new data on tigers and snow leopards, Bhutan may be the next frontier of research into unlocking the secrets of these unlikely high altitude competitors.