Endangered tigers find refuge in massive new Indian park

The newly protected area — the size of New York City — connects several adjacent parks, making it one of the largest contiguous tiger habitats in the world.

Vijay Kumar / WWF-India / LiveScience.com
A tigress and her cub rest in India's Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary.

India has created a new protected area for tigers within a wildlife reserve in the south of the country.

The area, part of the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary, is home to about 25 tigers, according to a release from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a conservation group. This population of tigers rivals the size of some of India's better-known reserves, the statement said.

This will be the 42nd tiger reserve in the country, which is home to the largest population of tigers in the world. The 272-square-mile (705 square kilometers) protected area will help connect several adjacent parks, making it one of the largest continuous tiger habitats in the world, according to the WWF. The area is also home to elephants, leopards, hyenas and vultures.

For more than a decade, WWF-India has worked with local authorities in the state of Tamil Nadu (where the reserve is found) to support projects to counter poaching, improve communications via cellular phones and wireless networks, train forest rangers and monitor tigers, the statement said.

"The tiger is the national animal of India, and WWF congratulates the government for yet another important milestone in its conservation efforts that will make a tremendous contribution to the goal of conserving wild tigers and their natural habitats in the country," said Dipankar Ghose, of WWF-India, in the statement.

Tiger numbers have declined by about 95 percent in the last century across their entire historic range, and experts think there are only about 3,000 left in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Email Douglas Main or follow him @Douglas_Main. Follow us @OAPlanet, Facebook or  Google+. Original article on LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.

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