India steps up tiger conservation plans

India has taken fresh steps to ensure the future of tigers as their numbers continue to dwindle.

The government approved funding for tiger reserves at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after he expressed concern over the near--extinction in the country of India’s national animal.

A cabinet spokeswoman said a memorandum of understanding signed at the meeting would strengthen tiger conservation initiatives across the country, helping to rid reserves and forests of the threat of poaching. It would also address growing public concern about tiger conservation, she told the Jaibhibar newspaper.

She said the new funds would be distributed through Project Tiger to the 37 reserves in the country, which cover 17 states.

Only last week an investigation confirmed there were no tigers left in Madhya Pradesh’s Panna reserve. An investigation team set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests found that not one of at 24 tigers the reserve had in 2007 was still there. The team blamed what it called “rampant poaching”.

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