India records less than 100 tiger deaths for the first time in three years

84 cases of deaths and 11 cases of seizures were recorded in 2019

For the first time in the past three years, the number of tiger deaths in a year in the country has been less than 100. According to data from the Ministry of Forest Environment and Climate Change (MoEFCC), there were 84 cases of tiger deaths in the country and 11 cases of seizures (in which a tiger is presumed dead on the basis of body parts seized by authorities). Both put together, the number of tiger deaths is in 2019 is 95.

In 2018, the number of tiger deaths recorded was 100 (93 mortalities and seven seizures). The number of deaths in 2017 was 115 (98 mortalities and 17 seizures), and in 2016 it was 122 (101 mortalities and 21 seizures).

Growing numbers

Speaking to The Hindu , Anup Nayak, Member Secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), said that these figures should be seen in the context that tiger numbers in the country were growing.

The last tiger census report, released in July 2019, had placed the number of tigers in India at 2,967, up by a third when compared with the numbers reported in 2014.

“This is encouraging to us. The reduced numbers of tiger mortalities are because of surveillance, good management of Tiger Reserves and a lot of awareness and education programmes on tiger conservation,” Mr. Nayak said, adding that using technology to maintain surveillance on tigers has also come as an added advantage.

The data on tiger mortality also confirms 22 cases of poaching in the country and one case of tiger poisoning in 2019. An analysis shows that 16 out of 22 poaching incidents have been reported outside Tiger Reserves.

Madhya Pradesh, which has the highest number of tigers in the country (526, as per the last census), has recorded the most number of cases (31) of tiger deaths. This was followed by Maharashtra, which reported 18 deaths. Karnataka, another State with high tiger population, recorded 12 deaths, and Uttarakhand recorded ten deaths. Tamil Nadu recorded seven cases of tiger deaths.

Deaths were also recorded from non-tiger bearing States like Gujarat, where a tiger had strayed into the State and died.

Mr. Nayak said that with the increase in tiger numbers, more areas in the country need to be declared Tiger Reserves. “We have 50 Tiger Reserves with an area of about 73,000 sq. km. With tigers coming out of Reserves and covering long distances, we need more Tiger Reserves,” he said.

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