New Delhi: Poachers are hunting down big cats in highly secured protected forests in the country despite having programmes involving crores of rupees for their conservation, two major global conservation organisations claimed.
Expressing concern over the safety of tigers, a new study conducted by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and TRAFFIC -- the wildlife trade monitoring network -- says that "habitat loss, and overhunting" are the two other threats to the endangered species.
"In India, as many as 50 per cent of Tiger deaths in protected areas alone are due to poaching," says the study released along with a photo gallery to highlight the 15 species that are threatened by excessive trade, some of it illegal.
The gallery includes orchids and other plants, reptiles and amphibians, as well as better-known large mammals at risk such as elephants and rhinos.
The study says that poaching and illegal killing are major threats due to the growing demand for tiger bones for use in traditional Asian medicine.
The Caspian, Javan and Bali Tigers are already extinct, and of the remaining six sub-species, the South China Tiger has not been noticed for many years.
Over the past century, tiger numbers have fallen from about 100,000 individuals to an estimated 3,500.
India has launched the Project Tiger to ensure a viable population of tiger in the country.
Initially, the Project started with nine Tiger reserves, covering an area of 16,339 sq km, with a population of 268 Tigers. At present there are 27 tiger reserves covering an area of 37761 sq km with a population of 1498 tigers.
This amounts to almost 1.14 per cent of the total geographical area of the country.