London, March 12 : A top WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) official in India has said that tiger populations in the country has drastically gone down from 40,000 at the beginning of the century to 1,400 presently.
According to a report in BBC News, Sujoy Banerjee, the director of WWF India's species programme, has made this estimate.
A serious threat to the remaining tigers has come from poor Indian farmers who are determined to protect the livestock that they depend on.
Chinese demand for tiger body parts - used in traditional medicine - is described as one of the main threats as well.
"Whenever there is human-tiger conflict, the ultimate loser is the tiger," said Banerjee.
The situation in Indonesia was also described as critical, with loggers having laid waste to vast tracts of the tigers' vital forest habitat.
Based on current trends, more than 90% of the country's forests may have been destroyed by 2050, the WWF group said.
Worldwide, there are only 3,500 tigers left in the world, compared with an estimated 5,000-7,000 in 1982, with the WWF warning that the South China Tiger and the Sumatran Tiger could soon be extinct.
"In many ways the tiger stands at a crossroads between extinction and survival, and which path it takes is totally dependent on us," warned Banerjee.