Sunday, May 2, 1999 Published at 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
World: South Asia
India defends tiger conservation record
The Bengal tiger is in danger of extinction
The Indian state has defended a report that criticised its tiger conservation record.
Digvijay Singh, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, has challenged a report which accused the government of conniving with poachers and having a callous disregard for tiger conservation.
The report was published in March by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an international non-governmental organisation that campaigns to expose and prevent wildlife abuse.
India is home to more than half the world's remaining population of tigers, but already the Bali tiger, Javan tiger and Caspian tiger have become extinct. According to the EIA, poachers are killing one or two tigers every day, while the Indian Government does nothing.
But in a letter to the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, Mr Singh said the report was based on hearsay, speculation and undependable reports.
He pointed to the establishment of an official state body, headed by an additional director general of police, for effectively checking poaching and the illegal trade in tigers and to the creation of a foundation for tiger conservation in Madyha Pradesh.
In March, the Indian capital, Delhi, held a the three-day Millennium Tiger Conference which called for increased international efforts to save the tiger from extinction.
India has recently increased the number of its tiger reserves from 23 to 25, but much of the poaching has been taking place outside the reserves.