Big cat count going up but poaching figures still too high

Even as India takes pride in its rising tiger population, nearly 40 per cent big cat deaths since 2012 have been attributed to poaching and seizure of body parts.

Published: 11th March 2018 09:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th March 2018 09:06 AM   |  A+A-

Image of a tiger used for representational purpose only

NEW DELHI: Even as India takes pride in its rising tiger population, nearly 40 per cent big cat deaths since 2012 have been attributed to poaching and seizure of body parts. According to the data of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, of the 553 tiger deaths that took place from 2012 to 2017, 122 (22.1 per cent) were due to poaching while in 85 (15.4 per cent) cases, seizures of body parts were made. The remaining 62.4 per cent deaths were attributed to natural causes.

According to the data, Madhya Pradesh alone accounted for over 20 per cent of the tiger deaths during 2012-17. This means one in every five big cats that died in the last six years was from the state.
MP was followed by Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Assam. Together, these five states account for 403 — nearly 72 per cent — of tiger deaths.

According to the 2014 estimation, India’s big cat population was 2,226 — up from 1706 in 2010 — and it is expected to rise further in the latest census this year.

“Several monitoring protocols using latest technology are in place to strengthen intelligence based enforcement, with support for Tiger Protection Force involving local workforce.Targeted killing of tiger is not there. But seizure of body parts in human occupied landscapes is discernible,” said Rajesh Gopal, secretary, General Global Tiger Forum.

To check the unnatural deaths of tigers, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has taken a series of steps. For instance, it provides grant for patrolling in tiger rich sensitive forest areas outside reserves, disseminating of real time information relating to poachers, improved electronic surveillance using thermal cameras etc. “Given the good growth rate of tiger and the sex ratio in habitats, a higher mortality rate due to natural and related causes will not affect the population stability,” Gopal said.

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