India tiger population up 20 percent

July 31, 2011 at 11:33 PM
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NEW DELHI, July 31 (UPI) -- The tiger population in India, home to half the world's big cats, rose to 1,706 in 2010, up 20 percent from 1,411 in a 2006 survey, the government said.

"The increase in tiger numbers is due to the fact that tiger populations in [the states of] Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka have shown an increase in tiger density," the Ministry of Environment and Forests said on its Web site.

"The inclusion of Sunderbans, some portions of North East and parts of Maharashtra have also contributed to the increase."

The ministry said the survey methodology used various sampling approaches and indicators.

The ministry, however, warned that despite their greater numbers, the tigers still face danger as they have lost 12.6 percent of their habitat, resulting in more of them being cramped into a smaller area.

The World Wildlife Fund had noted in March that tiger population recovery requires strong protection of core tiger areas and areas that link them, as well as effective management in the surrounding areas.

"With these two vital conservation ingredients, we can not only halt their decline, but ensure tigers make a strong and lasting comeback," Mike Baltzer, the wildlife organization's Tigers Alive Initiative head, said.

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