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Field Biologists Cry Foul Over Ban

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Science  23 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6075, pp. 1429
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6075.1429

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In the past 2 years, southern India's Karnataka State has canceled 40 out of 42 research permits in four tiger reserves, shutting down studies on topics as diverse as Asian elephant migrations and long-term ecological plots. Karnataka's chief wildlife warden, Brij Kishore Singh, says he has barred most researchers from reserves to protect Karnataka's estimated 300 tigers, perhaps the single largest population in the wild. The reserves, he says, are "critical tiger habitats, and all human activity inside them has to be curtailed as it causes disturbance to the conservation of the tiger." A 2011 census found that India's adult tiger population in the wild has declined to about 1700, half the number it was a decade ago. Scientists are perplexed by Singh's belief that their research is not compatible with conservation.