120 tiger deaths recorded in India in 2016
New Delhi: Last year was a dark one for tigers in India. At least 120 tiger deaths were recorded in the year, the highest number of deaths in the last 10 years and a 50% jump compared to 2015 when 80 tiger deaths were recorded, according to official data.
In 2014, there were 78 tiger deaths, while in 2017, one tiger death has been recorded so far.
India boasts of being home to about 2,226 tigers which is about 60% of the world’s tiger population of about 3,890. India has also declared tiger as its national animal.
However, increase in their numbers seems to have also triggered an increase in attacks on them.
The number of tiger deaths includes seizure of tiger’s body parts as well. Of the 120 deaths, 22 cases were of seizure alone. The reasons for the death of big cats ranged from natural death in old age to drowning, electrocution to fighting among themselves and road/rail accident to poisoning for revenge (by humans). In two cases, they were “eliminated by authorities” due to human-tiger conflict.
Madhya Pradesh with 32 deaths topped the list, closely followed by Karnataka with 17 and Maharashtra with 16 deaths.
Indications of mounting tiger deaths came in mid-2016 itself. Between January and 20 July 2016, 73 tiger deaths were recorded.
Poaching, human-tiger conflict, battle between development and conservation and vanishing tiger corridors are some of the reasons for the high rate of tiger deaths, according to experts.
India also lost two of its famed tigers—Machli and Jai—last year.
In August, India’s longest known surviving tigress in the wild, 19-year-old Machli, was found dead at the Ranthambore tiger reserve.
Jai, who was a crowd puller at Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra has been missing since April. The issue also found a mention in Parliament in November.
Launched in 1973 to check the dwindling population of tigers, India’s Project Tiger today includes 50 tiger reserves that span about 2.12% of country’s geographical area.
In January 2015, the Central government released the tiger census 2014, pegging their population at 2,226, a jump of 30% since 2010, when it was 1,706.
Later, a report released in April 2016 highlighted that after a century of steady decline, the global tiger count had shown an increase for the first time. About 100,000 tigers roamed the forests of the world in the 1900s, but their numbers dwindled steadily, hitting a low of 3,200 in 2010 when the last estimates were compiled.