Delhi, Sunderbans and the Western Ghats are among the hotspots of illegal trade of tigers, their parts and products, says a new global report.
The joint report by the global wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC and WWF Tigers Alive Initiative, titled “Reduced to Skin and Bones Revisited”, has claimed that tigers were being poached in most of the 13 tiger range countries including China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Based on the information from India, five hotspot locations have been identified, says the report released in Bangkok last week.
The other four hotspots were close to protected areas in different parts of the country — Ramnagar in Uttar Pradesh which sits close to the entrance of Corbett National Park, the towns of Balgahat and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh where the Kanha and Pench National Park is located, Kolkata and areas spanning south to the edge of the Sunderbans in Bengal and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghats.
According to the report, the National Capital Region is an “exception among the hotspots” as it is not located in or near to any tiger landscapes.
The report has also claimed that an examination on trade of leopard parts and products has revealed that Delhi accounts for more than 26 per cent of all leopards seized, making it the “most important hub of illegal trade in the country”
“Tiger seizures within this hotspot are predominantly of skins, but there have been no significant seizures there since 2005,” it says.
On Sundarbans hotspot, the report says that seizures on the Bangladeshi side have been at a much lower rate in comparison to India, the most recent seizure there was in 2011 when a suspect was found in possession of three tiger heads, four tiger skins, and 24 kg of bones.
It says that though Corbett and the adjacent Ramnagar Forest division have healthy tiger populations, they remain a prime target for poachers and in 2012 a poaching group were found hiding out in the protected zone of the park with traps.
“Tiger skins were most commonly seized from this location,” the report says.
The latest analysis of confiscations, which includes new data for 2010-2012, reveals that parts of more than 1,400 tigers have been seized across Asia in the past 13 years.
The report has found that parts of at least 1,425 tigers had been seized from twelve of 13 tiger range countries between 2000 and 2012. Cambodia was the only exception from where no seizures were recorded at all during the period.
A significant finding in the report was the high rate of seizures of live tigers - 61 individuals were seized in the three-year period since the last full CITES meeting took place in 2010, representing 50 per cent of overall numbers (123) recorded since 2000, it says.
Thailand was the most significant location for interdiction of live tiger trade (30), followed by Lao PDR (11) and Indonesia (9) and Vietnam (4).
Although it is not yet possible to show a definite trend, the analysis provides clear evidence that illegal trade in tigers, their parts and products, persists as a major conservation concern, says TRAFFIC.
A total of 654 seizures of tiger parts ranging from skin to bones, to teeth, claws and skulls took place during this period, an average of 110 tigers killed for trade per year or just over two per week.
“89 per cent of seizures occur outside protected areas, emphasising the importance of anti-trafficking actions to disrupt trade chains and prevent incursions into tiger habitat. The benefits of such analysis to enhance law enforcement efforts to protect tigers are obvious,” says the report.
The report was launched on Friday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting currently underway in Bangkok.