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Animal charity Born Free has launched an international plea to help save tigers, which the organisation says could be extinct within a decade.
Born Free has said the demise of tigers has been so dramatic that a total of 96 percent of the world’s tiger population has disappeared in the last 100 years – with as few as 4,000 believed to be in the world today.
The main reason behind the dwindling numbers is thought to be a dangerous combination of poaching and habitat destruction, both of which are man-made problems.
According to Born Free, 85 percent of conflict between humans and tigers takes place when people intrude on wildlife territory by going into the forest.
But now the charity is calling on the world to help save the species, working alongside seven Indian NGOs to tackle the poaching crisis while also safeguarding tiger habitats. Together, they also hope to promote the idea of conservation so that communities and wildlife can live together side-by-side in peace.
Half of the surviving 4,000 tigers are thought to be native to India, and more than 500 of those are found in the central region of Satpuda.
“India is home to some of the greatest diversity of wildlife on Earth,” said CEO of Born Free, Howard Jones.
“Within this extraordinary ecosystem, tigers need our intervention more than ever due to countless threats, including human-wildlife conflict.
“[That includes] poaching for their body parts for traditional ‘medicine’, and habitat loss due to deforestation and chaotic or ill-considered rural development.
“It’s unimaginable to think of a world without tigers but unless we act now, the consequences could be dire.
“We urgently need support for our Living with Tigers initiative so we can encourage human-wildlife co-existence through education and by involving the local community in a number of unique initiatives to improve their livelihoods.”
The development of urban areas, which often encroach on the homes and territories of tigers, is something that many charities are campaigning against.
Tigers and other animals are often allowed to migrate through huge corridors of land, but it’s likely that the loss of these would lead to an irreversible fall in tiger numbers.
“There are canals, roadways, railways, transmission lines and all sorts of projects that are proposed across the landscape,” added Kishor Rithe, who is the founder of the Satpuda Foundation, a partner of the Living with Tigers network.
“I believe that every responsible agency should think about ecological security and have inbuilt mitigation plans with their project proposals.”