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Teeming With Tigers, India Needs To Manage Their Population

India is facing a serious 'problem of plenty'. Rising tiger population in many parts of the country is creating conflict zones. And the tiger- human clashes are going up, alarmingly in many landscapes. The Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) needs to take initiatives to control the situation. Fifty years after the project tiger as India moves on from dwindling tiger population to surplus numbers of the big cats,  the nation needs an active tiger population management plan. As MoEFC&C yet to  become proactive, a team of  tiger catchers continue to carry out search operations for the past over five months to  capture a tigress with four cubs. Thge team members are  scanning Tadoba Andhari Tiger Landscape in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, grappling with the issue of over population of 200 tigers. As many as 53 people lost their lives in Chandrapur in 2022 in tiger attacks while 14 tigers have also died from January 2022 to January this year. This

Shouldn’t The Record Number Of Tiger Deaths Be A Cause Of Concern?


This story was on my agenda since December 30 when the tiger death data was revealed by the National tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) but as I did not want to begin the New Year with a negative note, I held it back. And a positive story of sighting of the clouded leopard atop a Nagaland mountain seemed to be the perfect beginning for the year 2022 before we go back to address the tiger crisis. Madhya Pradesh with the highest numberof tiger population tops the list of the big cat loss. The central India state accounted for almost 35 % of the record number of 126 tigers’ deaths in India in 2021. As many as 44 tigers died in MP. I apologise  from the readers to carry the images of tiger carasses along with this writeup. 

MP’s Tiger Deaths Under Scrutiny 

Though there is nothing official in the tag, the term of 'tiger state' enhances Madhya Pradesh's  status in the wildlife. This term is used because of the maximum number (526) of  felines found in the state. But 2021 turned out to be the worst year in the last one decade. Of the 44 deaths, 8 cases belonged to poaching and in four cases, tiger body parts were confiscated. Most of the other incidents of tiger deaths were attributed to “territory fighting”. In the majority of these cases, the state forest department did not make the post mortem reports public . Bandhavgarh national park along with Panna tiger reserve and Pench tiger reserve were in news for tiger deaths in 2021. All three along with the famous Kanha national are considered as some of the best national parks of India.  

Also readWire Snares in Maharashtra Jungles Sound Alert

After MP, the neighbouring state of Maharashtra reported second highest death toll of tiger -24 -followed by Karnataka  where only 15 tiger deathswere reported. Karnataka with 524 tigers did not report any tiger death after September 2021 when MP recorded 10 tiger deaths in the three months after September.  From 2010 to 2018, Karnataka had the highest number of tigers but the south India state was replaced by MP in the last tiger count by just 2 tigers- 526 as compared to 524 in Karnataka. The NTCA said that the number of tiger deaths in MP was under “scrutiny”.  Remember, the tigers  continue to be listed as “endangered” on theInternational Union for the conversion of Nature (IUCN) Red list of threatened species. 

No Room For Complacency

For the period 2012 to 2019, the average tiger deaths per year were 94. In 2016, it went up to 121. Last year, it further rose to126 tiger deaths. With 2,967 tigers, India is home to around 75 % of the world's tiger population. In 2010, India and 12 other countries signed an agreement to double tiger numbers by 2022. Last year, the government announced that it had already reached the target ahead of schedule when it counted an estimated 2,967 tigers in 2018 as compared to 1,411 in the previous tiger estimation. Over the past decade the biggest reason for deaths recorded by the NTCA was "natural causes", but many also fell prey to poachers and"human-animal conflict". Tiger habitats continue to be under stress and   cases of forest encroachments have increased in recent decades in the country of 1.3 billion people shrinking the tiger land. 

Also read: Avni's killing: Core Issue of Tiger Corridors Lost in Oblivion

 Development works including the construction of highways without the sufficient number of  safe passages have also been cause for concern. According to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) there are 104 national parks and 566 Wildlife Sanctuaries. Despite this about 30 % of tiger population live outside them. Most of the tiger deaths including poaching are reported from outside the protected areas.  There is no room for complacency especially in view of the rising numbers number of tigers and their diepersal . We need to take care of the tiger corridors connecting the protected areas.

Representational Images

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  1. Most of the deaths are well recorded but some are really doubtful.

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