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India to host World Tiger Summit next year



PTI
10th August 2009

For the first time, India will host World Tiger Summit next year where wildlife experts from various countries are expected to congregate to deliberate on conservation of diminishing striped cats in the wild.

"Rajasthan will be hosting the World Tiger Summit at Ranthambore next year in October or November. About 200 experts from across the countries are to participate in the summit including those from the world renowned organisation, Global Tiger Initiative," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said.

With over 44 royal big cats in the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve will be showcased as a role model to delegates attending the Summit being held for the first time in the country which is home to around 1,400 endangered species.

Ramesh, however said that India would not accept any fund from the World Bank for the country's tiger conservation programme. World Bank has been consistently pushing for pumping in money in India's tiger protection programmes but NGOs and the government have been opposing the proposal.

Conservationists strongly feel that the World Bank's move to invest in tiger protection programme is just an attempt to "meddle" with the India's green efforts given its huge investments in several developmental projects such as dams and industrial projects which will damage wildlife habitat.

Apparently agreeing with this view, Ramesh said the country is capable to protect the striped cats.

"Who else but we being the holder of a large number of world's tiger population could know the problems better. We do not intend to take any grants or loans from them. We will, however, remain in touch with the technical experts of other countries and will send our field directors to these countries in case they need expertise in the area," he said.
The summit is likely to seek to strengthen and expand a patchy system of tiger reserves across the 13 countries, including India, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Russia, that are home to the world's rapidly diminishing tiger population.

Security and controversial issues such as poaching and tiger-farming in China for making medicines from the animal's bones and parts which is taking toll on the striped cats in the wild are also likely to come up for discussion at the summit.

Experts believe there are only about 3,500 tigers left in the wild faced with a problem of shrinking habitats besides poaching and man-animal conflict. Just a century ago they were thought to number 100,000.

Ramesh also said that during the summit the tiger census based on new methodology will be released.

"We plan a three-tier system exclusively based on scientific system to carry on the tiger estimation work," the Union Minister added. The latest census released last year had estimated 1,400 big cats in the country's landscape.

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