67 tiger deaths in India

In just six month 67 tigers have died—and the Indian government does not know why—the New Indian Express reported early this month.

In a worrying trend in the first six months this year, 11 tigers died every month, which means one tiger death reported every three days. What should concern the government more is that of the 67 deaths, authorities were able to find reasons behind the death in only one case.

The data for the first six months shows that 58 bodies were recovered but in nine cases only body parts were seized by the authorities. The highest number of tiger deaths was reported from Karnataka (14), Madhya Pradesh (13) and Uttarakhand (9).

India is home to world’s 60 percent tigers in the wild. The tiger estimation 2014 put the population of big cats in India at 2,226 compared to 1,706 in 2010 and 1,411 in 2006.

The numbers also throw up another bothering trend: 36 tigers were found dead outside tiger reserves and 31 inside the boundaries of tiger reserves. According to experts, about 1,000 of 2,226 tigers are outside 50 tiger reserves in the country and there is an urgent need to have marking of tiger corridors and policy to ensure their protection outside physical boundaries of tiger reserves.

Last year turned out to be worse for big cats with 122 tiger deaths, compared to 80 deaths in 2015. The reasons range from poisoning to poaching and infighting to natural deaths. There has been an increasing demand of tiger parts in international markets especially China and Southeast Asian countries.

The Center, however, feels that all measures are in places to ensure tiger poaching is stopped. “There is a protocol for investigation of each tiger death and authorities are required to send a detailed report,” said a senior environment ministry official.

Project Tiger was launched in 1973 for conservation of tigers but in last 40 years consecutive governments have not focused on addressing key areas to broaden tiger conservation. With development topping government’s agenda, there has been no land use policy around protected wildlife areas.

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