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Disappearing cats: 6 tigers dead in 10 wks


Times of India, New Delhi, 19 November 2008
Avijit Ghosh | TNN

New Delhi: India’s tigers continue to die. In the last 10 weeks, six more tigers have perished due to poaching, electrocution, accident or natural causes. During the same period, police and forest officials have also seized four skins and 18 claws of the big cat, according to information collated by a wildlife NGO, from across the country.

On November 2, a tiger was electrocuted in Soutiya village, adjoining the buffer zone of the Kanha tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Investigations showed that the villagers were laying out naked electricity wires to catch sambhar, a widespread deer species but a tiger got enmeshed in the wires and was electrocuted. ‘‘Every part of the animal, including nails, was intact. Which shows that poachers were not involved,’’ says Ramesh Pratap Singh, field director of the tiger reserve. Seven villagers have been arrested.

Earlier, on October 21, one tiger skin was seized in Kerala leading to three arrests. K Ummer, DFO of Nilambur South, says: ‘‘One female tiger skin, five feet long, was seized from a car,’’ he said. The job was not by professionals because the skin had plenty of holes, says the forest officer. ‘‘They were not gunshot holes. Only that the skinning wasn’t professionally done,’’ he says. However, the seizure of six iron tiger traps in Satara by Maharashtra forest department on September 29 shows that poachers remain extremely active in many parts of the country.
 
The latest census figures released this year showed a mere 1,411 tigers alive, compared to 3,508 in 1997, a drastic dip of 60%. ‘‘With such low numbers of wild tigers we simply cannot afford to lose so many of them to criminals,’’ says Belinda Wright of Wildlife Protection Society of India, the NGO which has collated the statistics. Experts feel the government agencies need better training, more motivation and greater resources.
 
‘‘But, if they need one thing more than anything else, it is better intelligence on the ground,’’ says Wright. Of late, the government has taken steps to shore up tiger protection, notably constituting a multidisciplinary Wildlife Crime Control Bureau. In his Budget speech this year, the FM announced a one-time grant of Rs 50 crore to National Tiger Conservation Authority.

UNDER THREAT

Nov 11: Tiger skin seized in Balaghat district, MP
Nov 5: A tigress found dead in Corbett Tiger Reserve
Nov 2: Tiger electrocuted in Kanha Tiger Reserve, MP
Oct 21: Tiger skin seized in Malappuram district, Kerala
Oct 6: Tiger shot dead by poachers in Sunderbans Tiger Reserve, West Bengal
Oct 2: Tiger found dead in Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala
Oct 2: 18 tiger claws seized by near Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka
Sept 29: Six iron tiger traps seized in Satara by Maharashtra forest department
Sept 28: Tiger skin seized by police in Mumbai, Maharashtra
Sept 27: A tiger skin seized by police in Kanker district, Chhattisgarh
Sept 6: One tiger killed in train accident in Katerniaghat, Uttar Pradesh
Sept 1: One tiger found dead in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan

(Source: Wildlife Protection Society of India)

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