At the start of an international conference on saving the world’s dwindling wild tigers come reports of a fatal attack by a tiger on a little girl in Nepal, the country hosting the conference. The news underscores one of the reasons tiger conservation will be difficult.
Tiger Conference Has Its Work Cut Out
The tiger is streaking toward extinction in the wild, and a group of over 250 scientists and tiger conservationists that began meeting in Nepal Tuesday to discuss further conservation measures have a tough job ahead of them. The Katmandu Global Tiger Workshop convened yesterday just after media had reported the death on Sunday of a Nepalese girl due to a tiger attack.
At least one news source said a leopard was responsible for the fatal attack in the Kavre district of central Nepal. However, a number of attacks by wild tigers on humans in several countries where tigers are native have been reported this year. Not only are humans and livestock in fast-growing Asian countries increasing encroaching on tiger habitat, but the numbers of prey animals the big cats depend upon are undoubtedly shrinking due to human hunting and the same habitat loss that is affecting tigers. Ever-more closed in by people, it is little wonder that tigers sometimes attack domestic animals or even people.
Experts at the conference say there are now fewer than 3,500 tigers remaining in the wild—down by as much as 50 percent since 2000, according to estimates, and less than 5 percent of the animal’s population in 1900. Nepal’s population of Bengal tigers currently stands at around 120. The main threat to tigers is illegal hunting to procure their body parts for Asian folk medicines. Loss of habitat is the second most pressing problem for the tiger.
Despite worldwide attention on the plight of wild tigers, previous conservation measures have failed miserably. It remains to be seen whether the Katmandu conference will generate any measures that actually succeed in delaying the critically endangered animal’s looming extinction.
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