The Indian tiger reserve... where poachers have killed all the tigers
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 5:10 PM on 15th July 2009
As one of India's premier tiger reserves, it should be the ideal place to spot the increasingly elusive creatures.
Only trouble is, the Panna National Park no longer has any tigers.
Officials made the embarrassing admission after a census was conducted in the reserve, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
They knew numbers had been dwindling and became concerned after no tigers had been spotted for some time.
But the results only confirmed their darkest suspicions.
Panna National Park was one of a number of reserves set up to save the Royal Bengal tiger from extinction.
Just a century ago, India had 40,000 of the creatures.
But their numbers have been radically reduced by hunters and poachers.
A seven-member committee which includes conservationists and experts has now been formed to determine where the park's tigers have gone.
Chief conservator HS Pabla told the BBC that tigers from Sanjay National Park could have strayed into adjoining areas, which is now part of the state of Chattisgarh.
But some experts fear the tigers have been poached, despite the country banning hunting of the giant cats.
A conservation scheme known as Project Tiger has also been created to increase the population of the endangered species.
Though the programme was initially successful, the decline in numbers has been negated by an increase in poaching, which is now organised around drug-smuggling.
National Wildlife Advisory Board member MK Ranjitsingh said it was time authorities took tougher action to stop the hunters.