NEW DELHI: One tiger was killed every third day in 2017, taking the total tiger deaths to 115 last year. This is for the second year running that over 100 tigers have died due to poisoning, poaching, natural deaths and conflict with humans.
The data for the year shows that 98 tigers bodies were recovered and in 17 cases, body parts were seized by authorities. The highest number of 30 tiger deaths was reported from Madhya Pradesh, followed by 25 in Maharashtra and 17 in Assam.
What should worry the authorities is that 61 tigers died inside reserves, which is a designated protected area, while 54 died outside. Causes of deaths in a majority of these cases is yet to be confirmed. The worst year for tigers was 2016, with 122 deaths, much higher than 80 dying in 2015.
India is home to the world’s highest tiger population in the wild with the 2015 Tiger Census putting the numbers at 2,226. Tiger numbers stood at 1,706 in 2010 and 1,411 in 2006.With infrastructure development eating out green spaces and highway construction inside protected areas opening up dense forest areas, the big cats are pushed outside protected areas.
“Addressing wildlife human interface requires an aggressive and active co-occurence agenda, which will have pro as well as retroactive measures, based on landscape approach, in ongoing manner specially protected areas proximal to human dominated settings,” said Rajesh Gopal, former National Tiger Conservation Authority chief and Secretary General Global Tiger Forum.
Project Tiger was launched in 1973 for conservation of tigers, but in the last 40 years, consecutive governments have not focused on addressing key areas to broaden tiger conservation.