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India's Tiger Numbers Don't Add Up

New census shows an increase in tiger population and a decrease in tiger habitat

India's tiger numbers just don't add up, Stephanie Nolen writes in the Globe & Mail. While the latest tiger census shows an increase of 12 percent in the tiger population -- a feat that officials are trumpeting as a sign that the seemingly inexorable decline of the big cats has finally been reversed -- Nolen reaffirms that conservationists on the front lines of the battle don't believe the hype. In fact, India's fight to save the tiger is failing, they say.

The latest census figures, announced Monday, showed that India's tiger population rose 12 percent to 1,706 tigers since the last survey, in 2006. But even though the new data was gathered using more sophisticated methods than previous surveys that extrapolated numbers from tiger tracks, many conservationists believe that the real number cannot be higher than 1,000, the article claims.

One reason: Even though tiger numbers supposedly climbed, the area occupid by tigers fell dramatically over the past four years, from 93,000 hectares to just 72,800 hectares, the paper quotes Y.V. Jhala, a biologist who co-directed the census, as saying. And those are numbers that just don't add up.

“The minister and the Forest Service needed some good news today, they needed good numbers,” the Globe & Mail quotes an unnamed environmentalist as saying.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/bric-yard/indias-tiger-numbers-dont-add