Tigers' survival under threat

Updated: 2012-12-05 09:47

By Abhaya Srivastava in New Delhi (China Daily)

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Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's new epic Life of Pi showcases the relationship between a teenage Indian boy and a Bengal tiger. But in reality, the predators are under increasing threat from humans.

Poaching remains a tremendous danger for the remaining feline population, with rising demand for tiger parts from East Asia, experts say.

Rising man-animal conflict is also one of the leading causes of decline in tiger numbers.

Related: Guardians honored for taming wildlife trafficking

Animal rights group PETA is hoping to use the popularity of the film to focus people's attention on the real-life plight of Bengal tigers.

"Life of Pi is a work of fiction, but in real life, there are threats to animals in their natural habitat that must be addressed," says Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs at PETA-India.

India is home to 1,706 tigers according to the latest census, almost half of the worldwide population. But that figure is a fraction of the 40,000 that roamed the country at the time of the country's independence in 1947.

In one of numerous reported attacks on the endangered big cats, villagers near the Bangladesh-India border bludgeoned a tiger to death earlier this month after it strayed from the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest.

Armed with sticks and boat oars, the angry crowd set upon the animal that was suspected to have attacked a local fisherman.

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