There are many reasons the why the tiger population in India is declining. Perhaps the most important one is the elimination of their habitat and their confinement to reserves and parks. Tigers require space to roam, to mark as territory, and for sufficient prey. The loss of habitat also causes fragmentation of tiger populations, which makes breeding more difficult. It becomes harder for a tiger to encounter a suitable mate, and inbreeding caused by small populations may weaken the offspring’s evolutionary viability. Finally, illegal poaching for various tiger parts remains a big problem in India, both on and off reservations, as many reserves do not have the resources in places to combat poaching.
Poaching, development, dam construction, and mining are all contributing to the decline of the tigers in India. Development, mining, and dam construction has taken valuable and necessary habitat away from the tigers. In 2006 India passed the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act which allows families that have lived in the forests of India for three generations to cultivate and occupy lands, this also contributes to tiger habitat loss. Poaching is another reason for the decline in tiger populations, a tiger pelt can cost as much as $12,500 in the black market.
The Bengal tiger that is native to primarily India is a subspecies of tiger that is in great decline. The National Tiger Conservation Authority has estimated the number at just 1,411 wild tigers left in the wild, a drop of 60 percent in the last decade. Habitat loss and large scale poaching are serious threats to the species’ survival. Poachers kill tigers not only for their pelts, but also for body parts used to make various traditional East Asian medicines. Farmers blame tigers for killing cattle and shoot them for it. The hunting for Chinese medicine and fur is the biggest cause of the decline of the tiger.
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