Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ferocious felines: Big cats strike back


Tigers

The number of tigers living in the wild has dropped from 100,000 a century ago to about 3,200 today.
Nations like India, Malaysia and Russia are working to preserve their wild tiger populations and, if possible, increase them.
At the International Tiger Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, in November, 13 tiger-range countries set a goal of doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022 and laid out plans to achieve that.
I’m sure people living in areas frequented by wild tigers feel differently about the situation.
In India, the country with the most wild tigers, attacks on humans are “regular occurrences,” according to UK’s Guardian newspaper. Shrinking habitats and less natural prey because of human encroachment are largely to blame.
However, it’s easier to find statistics on how many tigers are killed by poachers and others than how many people are killed by tigers in any given year.
In the Sundarbans, a large mangrove forest shared by West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh, wild tigers kill 50 to 250 people a year. (In 2009, tigers killed 50 people in the Sundarbans, according to Zee News of India.)
Man-eating tigers also are a problem in northern India. In the state of Uttam Pradesh, 16 people have been killed by tigers over the past 10 months, Thaindian News reported Jan. 13.

Lions

Tigers eat more people, but their cousins the lions occasionally dine on humans too.
On Oct. 30, 2010, a pride of lions fatally mauled a tourist while he showered under a tree at an unfenced campsite in a nature reserve in Zimbabwe. Peter Evershed, a 59-year-old businessman, was attacked by five lions as darkness fell at the Chitake Springs bush camp, a wildlife viewing area near the Mana Pools nature reserve, according to the Huffington Post.
One report noted that eight people were killed by lions in rural areas of Zimbabwe between May and June 2010.

Photo: Bengal tiger by John and Karen Hollingsworth.

Next: Crocodile attacks are no crock

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