With about two-thirds of the world's tiger population - a few thousand in all - India is now the only place where, realistically, it can be saved. Most would agree that reserves in the border areas there cannot be permanently secure, but some parts of the interior probably have the potential to maintain a viable population. The best remaining option is at least one well- chosen sanctuary.
Experience makes it clear that endangered wildlife will only survive today where local people want it to and this will be where they see that it is in their interests. African countries have shown the way by making wildlife tourism their main industry and by demonstrating that it can be self-sustaining. What has not yet been accomplished is making sure that the profits reach the local people, thus harnessing their support against poaching. One tiger can fetch around $20,000.
Enormous sums have been subscribed to Save the Tiger in India but little has been received at ground level, although it is in the jungle that the tiger must be saved. There are non-government organisations that focus their activity on the jungle, the Ranthambore and the, still-nascent, Bandhavgarh Tiger Trusts, for example.
Alas, the day when India's Department of Environment and Wildlife will share its jealously guarded monopoly in tiger conservation with such NGOs is still way off - too remote, perhaps, to be reached before the animal is lost for ever.
James C Brindley