CHENNAI, India — Recently it was found that the Panna National Park in central India, one of the most prestigious tiger reserves, was bereft of the big cat. Only four years ago the park had 35 tigers. By mid-2008, only one male tiger was seen there, and two female cats introduced into Panna from neighboring national parks to increase the feline population had vanished. In 2006, Sariska National Park in western India lost all its 26 tigers.

India’s tiger tale is written in the blood spilled from these majestic creatures. In the early 1900s, India had 40,000 tigers roaming its wilds. Now there may not even be a thousand left. With one big cat killed every day by poachers — who sell the body parts for dubious medicinal remedies — it may not be long before tigers in India are seen only in zoos.

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