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India's Tiger Poaching Crisis

Until recently, habitat loss was thought to be the largest single threat to the future of wild tigers in India. It has now been established that the trade in tiger bones, destined for use in Oriental medicine outside India's borders, is posing an even larger threat. Having decimated their own sources, Far Eastern traditional medicine manufacturers are now targeting India for their supply of tiger bones. Poaching of tigers for the traditional Chinese medicine industry started in northern India in the mid-1980's. 

Investigations carried out in 1993-94, during which a total of 36 tiger skins and 667 kilos (1470 pounds) of tiger bones were seized in northern India, brought to light the severity of the problem. The illegal trade is now widespread and in the hands of ruthless, sophisticated operators, some of whom have top level patronage. There is also evidence that profits from the wildlife trade are increasingly being used to fund armed insurgency in north-east and north-west India. A tiger can be killed for as little as just over a dollar for the cost of poison, or $9 for a steel trap. Much of the tiger poaching is done by tribals who know their forests well. They are usually paid a meager amount (in a case near Kanha Tiger Reserve, in May 1994, a trader paid four poachers $15 each for killing a tiger), their hunting talents and knowledge exploited by greedy traders. It is these traders and the middlemen who make substantial profits from the illegal trade in tiger parts. 

PENALTIES

A general offence under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, attracts a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment or a fine which may extend to Rs. 25,000 or both.

An offence involving a species listed in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II, or an offence committed within a sanctuary or natural park, attracts a mandatory prison term of three years, which may extend to seven years. There is also a mandatory fine of at least Rs. 10,000. For a subsequent offence, the prison term remains the same, while the mandatory fine is at least Rs.25,000.

An offence committed inside the core area of a Tiger Reserve, attracts a mandatory prison term of three years, extendable to seven years and a fine of Rs. 50,000 extendable to Rs. 2 lakhs. In case of a subsequent conviction of this nature, there is an imprisonment term of at least seven years and a fine of Rs. 5 lakhs which may extend to Rs. 50 lakhs.

Despite these penalties, the laws are difficult to enforce. WPSI's wildlife crime database has records of over 900 tiger-related court cases, but only a few of these have resulted in convictions and most are still pending in the courts. To date, WPSI has records of only 61 people that have been convicted for killing a tiger or trading in tiger parts.

POACHING METHODS

Poachers use one of the following methods to kill a wild tiger:

Poison - which is usually placed in the carcasses of domestic buffaloes and cows. During the dry, hot summer months small forest pools are also poisoned by poachers, or depressions dug and filled with water for this purpose. There is a sophisticated and well organised supply route operated by the major traders, to distribute poison and collect tiger bones from the remotest villages. .

Steel Traps - which are made by nomadic blacksmiths. These traps are immensely strong. In a tiger poaching case near Raipur in 1994, it took six adult men to open a trap. In one area in central India, investigators found that so many steel traps had been set that the villagers were fearful of going into the forest. People have received dreadful injuries from these traps.

Firearms - are used where hunting can be carried out with little hindrance.

Electrocution - by tapping 230 volts -11KV overhead electrical wires and laying a live wire on animal tracts.

Tiger poaching occurs in all areas where large number of tigers have been recorded. Poaching is particularly prevalent in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Assam.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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TIGER DEATHS IN 2017
 Mortality                 73
 Poaching &             
 Seizures                  34
___________________
       Total                  107


TIGER DEATHS IN 2016
 Mortality                  82
 Poaching &              50
 Seizures                   
___________________
       Total                  132


TIGER POACHING 1994-2016

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LEOPARD DEATHS IN 2017
 Mortality                249
 Poaching &            152
 Seizures             
___________________
       Total                  401



LEOPARD DEATHS IN 2016
 Mortality                 282
 Poaching &             154
 Seizures             
___________________
       Total                  436
     

LEOPARD POACHING 1994-2016


TIGER RESERVES
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve Map 

Bandhavgarh


 
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