Siberian tigers almost extinct: Report
IANS 25 November 2009, 05:14pm IST
LONDON: Siberian tigers are almost on the verge of extinction, thanks to poaching and habitat loss, says a report.
The area monitored for the study, 23,555 square km, represents 15 to 18 percent of the existing tiger habitat in Russia.
Only 56 tigers were counted at these monitoring sites. The total number of such Siberian tigers was estimated to be 500 in 2005, having recovered from less than 30 animals in the late 1940s.
Deep snow last winter may have forced tigers to reduce the amount they travelled, making them less detectable, but the report notes a four-year trend of decreasing numbers of tigers.
The decline is due primarily to increased poaching of both tigers and their prey species in the region, coupled with a series of reforms in Russia, which reduced the number of enforcement personnel in key tiger areas, the report said.
The report revealed that a recent tiger survey over a representative part of the big cat's range showed a 40 percent decline in numbers from a 12-year average.
The report was released by the Siberian Tiger Monitoring Programme, which is coordinated by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) with Russian governmental and non-governmental organisations.
Annual tiger surveys are conducted at 16 monitoring sites scattered across tiger ranges to act as an early warning system to detect changes in the tiger population.
"The sobering results are a wake-up call that current conservation efforts are not going far enough to protect Siberian tigers," said Dale Miquelle, WCS's Russian Far East Programme.
"The good news is that we believe this trend can be reversed if immediate action is taken," Miquelle added.
"Working with our Russian partners we are hopeful and confident that we can save the Siberian tiger," said John G. Robinson, WCS executive vice-president.