DEHRADUN: Tigers in Corbett may be growing in numbers, but the reserve is also losing its big cats at the same rate.In 2016, Uttarakhand reported eight tiger mortalities of which only three were from the Corbett reserve. This year, Corbett alone accounts for five of the 12 tiger deaths so far. The latest case was reported on August 29 when a tigress succumbed to infighting in Dhela range. Overall, the country lost 100 tigers last year and 64 deaths reported so far.Last year, the Phase IV monitoring had reported the presence of at least 163 tigers in Corbett. This rose to 208 after the monitoring this year. Corbett boasts of maximum number of tigers among the reserves in the country.Qamar Qureshi, tiger expert at Wildlife Institute of India, said natural mortality is a healthy sign which provides space for young and growing tigers. “If tigers are growing, then their deaths will also be reported. What one must ensure that the tigers are not falling prey to poachers. Rest, natural deaths are as intrinsic as in the case of humans,” he told Hindustan Times.Incidentally, a tiger was pinned down by an earth mover in March during a botched rescue attempt outside the reserve at Bel Padav range in Terai West. The big cat later died in captivity. A postmortem found the tiger died of septicaemia and asphyxiation. It had triggered a blame game among forest officials over the use of JCB.Some of the key forest divisions adjoining Corbett such as Terai East, Terai West, Terai Central, Ramnagar, Haldwani and Lansdowne have a healthy number of tigers. Corbett, as per forest officials, acts as a source population and the divisions adjoining provide space for the sink population.“The deaths were due to infighting and other natural reasons, which is expected in wild. We, here at Corbett, are working tirelessly for the protection of big cats,” Corbett director Surendra Mehra said.The reserve is battling with its porous southern boundary where the sole initiative of electronic surveillance was discontinued after the private party locked cameras and disappeared. This has led to intensive patrolling in the area.