24 tigers were killed in Maharashtra in last 3 years
As per the RTI response, 15 out of 24 tiger deaths were reported between January 2020 and September 8, 2021, indicating that the Covid-19 induced nationwide lockdown, beginning March 2020, and subsequent restrictions might have aided in the poaching activity in Maharashtra
Nagpur takes pride in being called the Tiger Capital of India but the big cats are seemingly not safe in the five tiger projects in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. As per state wildlife department, 24 tigers and 57 leopards have been killed since 2018, mostly in acts of poaching.
Abhay Kolarkar, the RTI activist, who sought the details from Maharashtra wildlife wing, said 20 out of the 24 tigers and 45 out of the 57 leopards were poached in the state since January 2018.
All these tiger deaths, including those poached, have been in the Vidarbha region. Five out of the state’s six tiger projects in Maharashtra are in Vidarbha region. They are Melghat (Amravati), Tadoba (Chandrapur), Pench (Nagpur), Bor (Wardha) and Navegaon-Nagzira (Bhandara). Sahyadri is Maharashtra’s only tiger project outside of Vidarbha and is spread over Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Ratnagiri districts.
As per the RTI response, 15 out of 24 tiger deaths were reported between January 2020 and September 8, 2021, indicating that the Covid-19 induced nationwide lockdown, beginning March 2020, and subsequent restrictions might have aided in the poaching activity.
Maximum of the poached tigers were from Chandrapur district, home to the famous Tadoba tiger sanctuary. Of these, four each were reported in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) division and Bramhapuri forest division and three in Umred-Karhandla Tiger Reserve.
All the 57 leopards were killed between January 2018 and September 3, 2021 in various parts of Maharashtra. Of these, 45 were poached, and there was a seizure of leopard skin in one case.
The Maharashtra wildlife warden and principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Sunil Limiye said the department was committed to tiger conservation and these incidents were a setback. “We are strengthening our vigil and additional steps will be taken to make sure that we protect the tigers and leopards in all the tiger reserves of the state,” he said.
Maharashtra has the fifth largest tiger population in the country. In the last tiger census conducted in 2018, as many as 312 tigers were spotted in the state.