750 Tigers died in India in last 8 years

750 Tigers died in India in last 8 years

According to official data obtained over RTI by news agency PTI, 750 tigers have died in India in the last 8 years due to poaching and other causes. Madhya Pradesh topped the list with 173 deaths.

According to NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) released data from the beginning of the year 2012 to 2019, a massive 750 number of tigers have died in India out of which 369 tiger deaths were attributed to natural causes. However, 168 deaths were confirmed cases of poaching. 70 deaths are under scrutiny to find out the reason for death. 42 tiger deaths were due to unnatural reasons, including accident or conflicts events.

There was also seizure of body parts which were estimated to have come from 101 tigers during the eight year period between 2012 and 2019 by different authorities across the country.

Madhya Pradesh which is estimated to have 526 tigers according to the latest tiger census, reported 173 tiger deaths during 2012 to 2019. 38 were due to poaching, 94 natural deaths, 19 under scrutiny, six due to the unnatural causes and 16 seizures, the data said.

Earlier in December 2019, in a reply to a Rajya sabha question the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar had said that “We must be proud of our whole ecological system. Tigers have increased by 750 in last four years,” Mr. Javadekar had said in Rajya Sabha in reply to a supplementary question.

Maharashtra has followed Madhya Pradesh as the state with second highest tiger deaths. Maharashtra has lost 125 tiger during this period. Karnataka closely follows with 111 tiger deaths. Next in line is Uttarakhand with 88 tiger deaths, Assam and Tamil Nadu with 54 each, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala with 35 each, 17 in Rajasthan, 11tiger deaths in Bihar and Bengal and 10 in Chhattishgarh. Odisha and AP had 7 deaths each, Telengana had 5 tiger deaths, two each in Delhi and Nagaland, and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat, the NTCA said.

As far as tiger deaths due to poaching are concerned, NTCA says Maharashtra and Karnataka lost 28 tigers each due to poaching, 17 in Assam, 14 in Uttarakhand, 12 in Uttar Pradesh, 11 in Tamil Nadu, six in Kerala and three in Rajasthan.

Unfortunately, NTCA did not provide any details on the action taken in these tiger deaths. Given the huge number of deaths and the slow pace of prosecution and the major focus of forest department on tourism and not on conservation, it is not surprising that NTCA didn’t give any details of action taken. The fact that NTCA asks the RTI applicant to contact individual chief wildlife wardens of all states to get details of missing tigers speaks volumes about the lack of focus on tiger conservation in this country.

The NTCA did not provide the details of action taken in these tiger death cases in response to the RTI application.

The present Government wants tomtom the increase in tiger numbers in the country to project an image that all is well with India’s wilderness and wildlife. This makes it easier for the Government to divert forest lands for industries, dams, mines etc as people are made to believe that we have surplus tigers and forests and hence some forests can be sacrificed for “development”. However, it is to be noted that the methodology followed by Wildlife Institute of India is not peer reviewed. Researchers have poked huge holes in the way tiger census is being conducted. If everything were overboard, then the Government would have made the tiger census methodology and data transparent.

So no wonder, following the publication of the news of 750 tiger deaths in last 8 years, the Government has issued a clarification press release casting aspersions on media that they want to malign the efforts of Government. The following is the press release issued by the Government through PIB within quotes.

Clarification over Tiger Deaths in the Country during last 8 years

PIB 7th June

It has come to light that some section of media has presented the figure of tiger deaths in the country, in a manner which is a lopsided view of tiger conservation in the country and has apparently attempted to malign efforts of the Government of India in this regard and sensationalize the issue.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA),a statutory body of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change would like to put across the following :

Due to efforts of the Government of India thorough the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the tiger has been taken from the brink to an assured path of recovery, which is evident in findings of the quadrennial All India Tiger Estimation conducted in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.These results have shown a healthy annual growth rate of tigers at 6%, which offsets natural losses and keeps tigers at the habitats carrying capacity level, in the Indian context. For the period 2012 to 2019, one can observe that the average tiger deaths per year in the country hover around 94, which is balanced by the annual recruitment as highlighted by this robust growth rate. In addition, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has taken several steps under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger to address poaching, which too, is significantly controlled as seen in the confirmed poaching and seizure cases.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority maintains the highest standards of transparency in so far as making tiger death statistics available to the citizen through its website as well as dedicated portal – www.tigernet.nic.in, so that people can make a logical assessment, if they desire. The presentation of data over a long time frame spread across 8 years indicates an intent to imprint the gullible reader with large numbers which may cause undue alarm. Also, not adequately covered is the fact that 60 percent of tiger deaths in India are not attributable to poaching.

It is also pertinent to mention that the NTCA, through a dedicated Standard Operating Procedure, has a stringent protocol to ascribe cause to a tiger death, which is treated as unnatural, unless otherwise proved by the State concerned through submission of necropsy reports, histopathological and forensic assessments besides photographs and circumstantial evidences. It is only after a detailed analysis of these documents that cause is ascribed to a tiger death.

While it is appreciated that figures as available on the NTCA’s website and as provided in the RTI reply have been used in these reports, the manner in which it has been presented causes alarm and does not take into account the gamut of processes that go into dealing with tiger death in the country and the natural gains that have been made in tiger conservation, as a result of sustained technical and financial interventions by the Government of India under its Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger being steered by the NTCA.”

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