Concerned over 14 big cats dying in the last three months, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has decided to convene a three-day meeting of wildlife officials of tiger-range states to review protection strategy in national parks.

The meeting, to be chaired by NTCA Member Secretary Rajesh Gopal, has come days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed concern over the recent unnatural tiger deaths in sanctuaries particularly Corbett and Kanha tiger reserves in Uttarakhand and Rajasthan respectively.

“The meeting, which commences from April 10, has been proposed at Ramnagar in Uttarakhand to discuss the strategies for plugging the loopholes to ensure safety of tigers. Chief Wildlife Wardens and Field Directors will attend the meet,” Deputy Inspector General (NTCA) S.P. Yadav said.

The government has already warned that as many as 18 reserves in the country threatens to go the Panna and Sariska way where all native striped cats were wiped out by the poachers.

“During the meeting, issues such as need for expediting buffer and core zones, streamlining tourism and strengthening weaker areas would be deliberated in detail,” Mr. Yadav said.

Poaching, infighting and conflict with villagers have taken a toll on the endangered tigers whose habitat has shrunk to meet the human needs for development.

On March 15, a tiger died in Tarai West, Ramnagar in Uttarakhand. During the same month, a total of four tigers died in Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar, Ranthambore National Park and Wayanad in Kerala. On April 1, a tiger cub was found dead in Bandipur Tiger reserve in Karnataka.

In 2009, 60 tiger deaths were reported across the states, highest in the past three years. Now, merely 3,500 big cats are left in the wild of which 1,411 are in India.