Traditional way of catching tigers in wild - through snares - is back and has caught the forest department officials off-guard.
In just three months over 80 traps and snares have been recovered in two tigers reserves in Karnataka - Bandipur and Nagarhole. Over 30 have been found in tiger areas in Uttarakhand and about 40 in MP.
Poachers have been traditionally using snares and traps to hunt animals including tigers. But, fire-arms and poison were replacing the traditional method, which had seen a sudden return.
The apparent reason is the increasing demand of clean tiger skins and body parts in the international wildlife smuggling network. A firearm leaves a black spot on the skin and poison leads to change in colour of the skin and body parts. That does not happen in case of snares as a wild animal turns immobile and dies a slow death because of bleeding.
The tiger watchdog, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), found many wandering gangs were targeting tigers using snares and iron traps across 10 states in India. "The situation is serious and calls for urgent action to step up protection in tiger reserves," said an advisory issued by NTCA member secretary Rajesh Gopal.
The field directors of 41 tiger reserves in India had been instructed to deploy special anti-poaching squads to patrol the reserves and look for snares and traps. The authority had also received reports that many gangs had visited villages around tiger reserves. As many as 29 tiger reserves had been identified as potential threat from poachers.