According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2010 is the Year of a Golden Tiger which begins on February 14 and ends on February 2, 2011. The Tiger is the third sign in the cycle of Chinese Zodiac which consists of 12 animal signs. There are apprehensions that this would fuel illegal trade in the body parts of the animals in Indian forests to meet the demand for Chinese traditional medicines which are widely used for various purposes.
"As precautionary measures, a series of advisories have been issued to tiger reserves across the country asking the authorities to step up intelligence and keep a tab on poachers and smugglers' activities," sources in the Environment Ministry told reporters. The advisories have been issued by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), an intelligence wildlife agency.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has already expressed concern, stating the new year posed a "threat to tigers in India". In August last year, he had, during his trip to China, asked the authorities for more help in cracking down on the trade in tiger parts. To counter the threat, India has announced a series of steps to raise awareness and draw international attention to save the endangered animal whose count stand at 1,400 in the country's 37 reserves as against total 3000 in the world.