Tiger populations in India have dropped from 40,000 to 1,400.
Upwards of 15,000 poverty-stricken Indian people took part in a protest last week against their government’s planned extension of a new wildlife sanctuary at Mudumalai created to protect the country’s dwindling population of tigers. The protestors fear that they will lose their homes due to the expansion of the sanctuary, despite government assurances to the contrary.
Just a century ago India was home to some 40,000 tigers; today there are about 1,400 of the big cats left in the wild. The Indian government blames dwindling habitat and poaching for the decrease. A government panel reported in 2006 that hundreds of thousands of poor villagers inside the country’s expanding tiger reserves would have to be relocated to protect the endangered animals from poachers and smugglers and to increase viable natural habitat. More recently, however, government officials have said that those living in the expansion area will not be forced to move, but will instead be instrumental as trackers and guides in an expanding eco-tourism industry.