Takes on China Re: Tiger Poaching
THE STRAIT TIMES
Vellor, South Asia Bureau Chief, 22nd August, 2009
India's minister set to raise issue of demand for
tiger parts during China visit
NEW DELHI - INDIA'S feisty
environment minister says he intends to tackle at source the reason his
country's efforts to protect the tiger are failing - China's demand for
tiger parts that fuels poaching of the big cats.
'I think we have a
good enough, mature relationship with the Chinese to tell them that
while we are doing our best to curb poaching, you cannot be oblivious
to the fact that demand for tiger parts is the real reason for this,'
said Mr Jairam Ramesh, whose ministry oversees the environment and
The 55-year-old Mr Ramesh, influential as a
speechwriter and political strategist to Congress party president Sonia
Gandhi, is visiting China next week for four days for discussions on
Top of the Indian Institute of
Technology and Carnegie Mellon-educated engineer's agenda is to work
with China on evolving a common stand on climate change and joint
studies on monitoring the receding Himalayan glaciers. The two Asian
giants will also discuss ways to cooperate in forestry.
Ramesh's determination to bring up the issue of poaching underscores
his alarm at the dwindling population in India of the Royal Bengal
Demand for tiger penis, teeth, claws and other parts from
China and elsewhere in East Asia - where these are associated with
aphrodisiacal qualities - has fuelled a lucrative trade in poaching.
The animal parts typically are sent overland to Nepal or Bangladesh,
from where they are shipped out.
India had more than 40,000 of the
majestic beasts 100 years ago and tiger hunts were a popular pastime of
the erstwhile royals and feudals. By 1973, the tiger population had
dwindled to about 1,800 animals.
Project Tiger, launched in 1973
when the late Indira Gandhi was ruling the country, won worldwide
acclaim as a conservation success, helping to double the tiger
population to about 3,500 by the mid-1990s.
Since then, however,
the programme has suffered a setback. Today, India is believed to have
fewer than 1,300 tigers in the wild.
organisation Wildlife Protection Society of India estimates that India
has lost 66 tigers since the year began, of which 23 were killed by