Close encounters

Published: Tuesday 15 January 2002

the team involved in the tiger census exercise in the world's largest Tiger reserve, the Sunderbans, has had a fewclose shaves with the big cats. And the field director of Project Tiger, Pradip Vyas, ascribes this to the feline's "affinity for human flesh". Between 1997 and 2001, more than 58 people were killed by the tigers. Those who carried out the counting believe the rise in tiger attacks on humans is proportionate to the increase in poaching in the Sunderbans.

As regards the census, it indicates that the tiger population is quite stable. The census teams say that they collected pugmarks of 700 tigers and 25 cubs from the Project Tiger area of 4,585 square kilometres (sq km) and 177 tiger and 17 cub pugmarks from the 1,600 sq km buffer zone. Meanwhile, India and Bangladesh have decided to team up for the management of the Sunderbans. The project will be funded by United Nations Development Programme.

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