Alarm bells after 11 tiger deaths in Madhya Pradesh this year
The deaths have alarmed officials as Madhya Pradesh this year reemerged as the state with the highest number of tigers in the country after eight years.Updated: Nov 05, 2019 17:08 IST
Madhya Pradesh has recorded the highest tiger deaths— at least 11—in the first 10 months of a year in five years, according to state forest department officials.
The deaths have alarmed officials as Madhya Pradesh this year reemerged as the state with the highest number of tigers in the country after eight years.
According to the 2018 All India Tiger Estimation report released in July, Madhya Pradesh had 526 tigers followed by Karnataka (524). Officials said that the report has boosted tourism in the state
The latest big cat death was reported from Madhya Pradesh’s Vindhya region, where villagers allegedly poisoned a tigress near the Sanjay Tiger Reserve after blaming it for attacking their cattle. The carcass of T-20, the tigress, was found on October 28 and seven villagers were arrested in connection with the killing, a forest department official said on condition of anonymity.
A forest department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that at least 11 tigers and tigresses were poached, electrocuted or poisoned in 2019.
“Of the 11, four died of electrocution; poachers killed three and two died of poisoning. Reasons for deaths of two tigers at the Pench Tiger Reserve [in February and March] are not known,” the official said.
The official added that the number of poaching cases may increase as certain deaths were still under investigation.
Madhya Pradesh reported the highest tiger poaching cases (31) from 2012 to 2018, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority data.
Deputy conservator of forests (wildlife), Rajnish Kumar Singh, said that there have been certain natural deaths as well as those caused by territorial fights. He added that human-animal conflict was also responsible for the deaths. “Compensation for the killing of domestic animals by tigers has been enhanced considerably to ensure that villagers do not commit such offences,” he said.
Singh said that the substantial increase in the number of tigers in the state—from 308 to 526 in over a decade—would not have been possible without his department’s “all-out efforts”.
Former conservator of forests Jagdish Chandra blamed a shortage of manpower and increasing human population around the state’s tiger reserves for the tiger deaths. He added that there also seems to be a “lack of willpower” among those at the helm in tackling the situation. “… we need to put in place stringent measures and mechanisms to deal with situation.”
Wildlife protection activist Ajay Dubey said that the forest department needs to strengthen its vigilance system and set up a special task force to protect tigers. He added that the department also needed to improve the conviction rate in cases related to wildlife deaths, which is below 10%.
Wildlife Protection Society of India’s project manager, Tito Joseph, said that there has been no letup (in the incidents of poaching in states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. It remains a reason for concern, he added.