tigers dead in 8 months
TIMES OF INDIA
Ghosh, 21st August 2009
NEW DELHI: Tiger deaths continue at an
alarming rate. Statistics collated from different parts of India by a
prominent wildlife NGO show that between January 1 and August 19 this
year, at least 66 tigers lost their lives.
Of these, 23 died due
to poaching. The list includes seizures of skins, bones, claws,
skeletons, canines and paws by police and wildlife authorities during
this period. The remaining 43 died of a variety of reasons such as
infighting, old age, tiger-human conflict, accidents and disease,
according to statistics provided by Wildlife Protection Society of
"In the last few months, Uttarakhand in the north and
Karnataka in the south have recorded particularly high numbers of tiger
deaths, which illustrates that the problem exists throughout the
country," says Belinda Wright of WPSI.
One incident occurred
near Pataur area in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh where a
tigress was found dead on Tuesday. "It could be a case of poisoning.
But right now we can't say for sure. The samples have been sent to the
forensic lab in Sagar and to the veterinary college, Jabalpur," says S
K Patil, field director of the reserve. The tigress had three cubs.
"Two have been spotted. We are trying to trace the third," says Patil.
tiger census figures released in Jan 2008 showed a mere 1,411 tigers
alive as compared to 3,508 in 1997, a drastic drop of 60%.
Ullas Karanth, Bangalore-based senior conservation scientist, says
decline of tigers since 1990s can be attributed to "the collapse of
field protection and patrolling." This, he says, is fallout of "a
mission drift in forest department" which has moved away from its "core
task of protection, towards eco-development, needless habitat
modifications and such other distractions." He also points out that
both tigers and prey are being poached where field protection has
"In areas where these protective measures are still
reasonably in place tigers are doing okay. The key issue is not just
poaching of tigers, even more important is the issue of their prey
species being hunted out. There are vast extents of forests in India
where tigers are absent not because of direct poaching, but because
their prey has been hunted out," Karanth says.