75 tiger deaths in 7 months of 2022 a cause for concern for India

75 tiger deaths in 7 months of 2022 a cause for concern for India

Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka account for two-thirds of tiger deaths, according to data revealed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority

Just two days ahead of July 29, International Tiger Day, India has cause for concern though it’s number one in terms of tiger population, at nearly 3,000. In just seven months of 2022, the nation has recorded 75 tiger deaths, with Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka accounting for two-thirds of the loss, according to data revealed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

Madhya Pradesh, which has the most number of tigers in the country, lost 27 tigers between January and July 25, 2022, while Maharashtra, which has third most tigers among states, witnessed 15 deaths of the big cats.

Also read: In Sunderbans, rising tiger population is eating into human space

Karnataka recorded 12 feline deaths, making it third in the list this year. The state has the second highest number of tigers in India.

Other states include Assam with the 5 tiger deaths, Rajasthan and Kerala 4 each, Uttar Pradesh 3, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha 2 each, Bihar and Chhattisgarh 1 each, the NTCA reported.

Tamil Nadu, which has 264 tigers in four reserves, has registered no deaths so far this year. The state’s tiger reserves, Kalakad Mundanthurai, Anamalai and Mudumalai, are considered safe for the cats. As many as 45 tigers died within their reserve forest limits while 29 died outside their reserve limits.

Good news, bad news

As per the 2018 census, India has 2,967 tigers and this is said to be the most any country in the world has.

However, the loss of 75 tigers in just around half a year is a cause of concern. Experts have raised apprehensions of whether this number could double in the rest of the year.

In the last 10 years, the highest mortality of tigers was recorded at 127 in 2021 and the second highest was 121 in 2016, followed by 117 in 2014 and 106 in 2020. According to forest officials, territorial disputes, age and health issues, poaching, and electrocution are the reasons for the death of tigers.

Seventeen were female, 32 male and 25 were those who sex could not be identified. Of these, 44 tigers were adults and seven sub-adults, 15 cubs (two male cubs, four female cubs, 8 cubs unknown (sex not identified)

In Karnataka, the gender breakup came to 6 male, 2 female, and 3 unknown (sex not identified) tigers. and 3 cubs (one male, one female and one unknown) and one sub-adult tiger.

Among the tiger reserves in Karnataka, the Nagarahole National Tiger Reserve lost three, and Bandipur National Reserve lost five tigers. Channagiri, Kodagu and Kakanakote forest areas recorded one tiger deaths each.

State-wise numbers

As per the tiger census in 2020, Madhya Pradesh recorded the most number of tigers at 526. Karnataka, which was holding the first position since the 2010 census, slipped to the second position with 524 tigers.  Uttarakhand has the third highest population with 442 tigers. Tamil Nadu has 264 tigers and Kerala has 190 tigers.

From 2012 till 2020, Madhya Pradesh recorded 202 tiger deaths, Maharashtra 141, Karnataka 121, Uttarakhand 93 and Tamil Nadu 62 tiger deaths.

The mortality data indicates that out of a total of 857 tiger mortality events since 2012, 55.78% (478 tiger deaths) took place inside tiger reserves, and 31.627% (271 tiger deaths) were recorded outside the boundary of tiger reserves and 12.60% (108) were seizures.

NTCA has been maintaining the details of each tiger mortality event in India. As per the stringent conditions set by the NTCA, all tiger deaths are considered ‘poaching’ in the beginning. Supplementary details like post-mortem reports, forensic and lab reports and circumstantial evidence are gathered for closing a particular tiger death case as either natural, poaching or unnatural but not poaching.

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