Tiger Population Declines to Less than 100 in Myanmar
    2009-10-07 19:51:10     Xinhua      Web Editor: Xu Leiying
 
The number of tigers taking sanctuary in Myanmar's Hukuang Tiger Reserve has declined to less than 100 from 150 in the previous years, sources with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said on Wednesday.

The fall in the tiger population was attributed to the killing of preys by hunters for human consumption or illegal trading in the area, resulting in the scarcity of food for tigers as well as to the use of tigers' bones and its body parts by medical practitioners in producing traditional medicines, the sources said, adding that the expansion of forest plantations have also made the tigers lost their natural sanctuaries.

As a preventive measure against tiger extinction, informative seminars and talks are being held at the region, it said.

In Myanmar, two kinds of Bengal and Indochina tigers are found taking sanctuary in mangrove plantations, grass field, icy region, pine forest and tropical evergreen forest.

Myanmar established the Hukuang Tiger Reserve in northernmost Kachin state in 2004, which covers an area of about 22,000 square kilometers, and is claimed the largest of its kind in the world.

Since 1988, the New York-based WCS and Myanmar ministry of forestry have been cooperating in tiger data collection with the use of camera trap as well as modern scientific method.

In the wake of tiger extinction threat, Myanmar wildlife police and forest rangers have planned to step up combating wildlife trade and crimes in the tiger reserve and special training programs have been introduced jointly by the Myanmar forest ministry and the WCS.

The authorities have called for creating a balance between the needs of local communities and the wildlife, which constitutes one of the major challenges for them.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar authorities have warned traditional medicine practitioners in the country to avoid using tiger bones in producing their medicinal products to help conserve endangered animal species.

As tiger has been prescribed as "completely protected" under the Protection of Wildlife and Conservation of Natural Areas Law since 1994, the ministry urged the practitioners to keep away from such practice, otherwise such species would vanish in the country.

Myanmar was estimated to have over 3,000 Bengal and Indochina tigers by 1980, the second in Asia after India, according to experts.
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