sees alarming rise in tiger deaths in India
New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Six tigers have been killed by poachers
since the beginning of 2009 and more have been killed by enraged
villagers, estimates an NGO. The Indian government had itself
raised an alarm about the dwindling number of tigers in the
wild last year, saying there were only around 1,400 left.
Delhi-based Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) says
that apart from the six tigers killed by poachers this year
in different parts of the country, a few more have died in
conflicts but the number of incidents is yet to be verified.
Between 2005 and 2008, at least 20 tigers have been poisoned
to death and 10 died in accidents, the NGO said.
Tigers straying out of deep jungles into fringe areas of the
forests are in danger from poachers; they also get killed
in road accidents and in conflicts with people.
Environmentalists say that confrontation with people has emerged
as the most immediate threat to these cats after poaching,
as shrinking habitats force them to venture out of the forest
In a small hamlet in the Sarpduli forest range just outside
Uttarakhand's Corbett National Park, a tiger mauled to death
a woman who went inside the forest to collect fuelwood Feb
Angry residents in Garjia village, where the victim lived,
blocked roads demanding that the tiger be captured dead or
alive, and were reassured only when authorities captured it
two days after the incident.
In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, at least three people were
mauled to death by a tiger, which had travelled some 160 km
crossing several villages and towns from its home in the forests
of Pilibit district to Faizabad district.
Residents in the Kumarganj area of Faizabad had been living
in a state of fear for two months. On Feb 7, the tiger was
shot near the Kamakhya Devi temple in the area where it had
attacked one of the villagers, but it escaped into a nearby
forest, and till date it is not clear if the animal is alive
or has died from its wounds.
The wildlife warden in Corbett says he is helpless when residents
get together to kill stray tigers or demand that the authorities
capture it dead or alive.
"What can we do when people protest over killing of a
villager by a tiger? If we know in advance when a tiger moves
into a fringe area, we try to push it back into the reserve.
But the tiger comes back and the problem persists," says
D.S. Rawat, wildlife warden in the Corbett National Park.
"This time we have been lucky (referring to the Garjia
incident). Although we faced strong opposition from people
who demanded that the tiger be killed, we managed to relocate
the cat to the Nainital zoo. The tiger will be kept there
under close observation before visitors can see it,"
Rawat told IANS.
He said that another tiger was relocated from Teda village,
a few kilometres from Garjia in the Sarpduli forest range
"Poachers take away every part of the tiger's body and
do not leave any evidence at the site: so poaching cases do
not get noticed," says S.N. Buragohain, director of the
Kaziranga National Park in Assam, some 200 km from the state's
main city Guwahati.
"Such incidents come to light only when tiger parts are
seized from poachers and they confess to the crime,"
Since 2002, at least 42 tigers have died in Kaziranga, a reserve
of about 730 sq km. The reasons for death include old age,
accident, infighting and poaching, among others. The cause
of death of 13 tigers could not be established, Buragohain
A veterinary expert requesting anonymity said he had examined
at least four carcasses which might be the result of revenge
killing, but the cause of death could not be ascertained due
to the advanced state of decay.
The government has set up 37 tiger reserves, spread across
19 states in India. But the current level of protection is
proving inadequate for the animals. Last year, the central
government's National Tiger Conservation Authority estimated
that only about 1,400 tigers roam the wilds in India nowdays,
down from an estimated 15,000 just two decades ago.
(Sanjeeb Baruah can be contacted at email@example.com)
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