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Tigers not safe in Madhya Pradesh

By Rohit Ghosh, Indo-Asian News Service
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Bhopal
PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2005 12:19 PM IST

 India's endangered tigers are no longer safe in Madhya Pradesh, known as the "tiger state" for its large population of the big cats.

Madhya Pradesh can boast of 19 percent of India's total tiger population and 17 percent of the world. But in the past 10 years, as many as 100 tigers have been killed in the state, or an average of 10 tigers every year.

And poaching of the big cats is continuing. The carcasses of a tigress and her cub were found in forest areas of Seoni district in southeast Madhya Pradesh last month.

A few days later, another carcass of a three-year-old tiger was found in the Pench National Park. In both these cases, the skin, claws, bones and some other parts of the cats were taken away by the poachers.

A high was registered in 1999, when 42 tigers were killed. In 1995, poachers killed 16 tigers.

According to the last census, carried out in 2002, the number of tigers in Madhya Pradesh was 711. Another headcount of tigers is currently on in the state. The total population of tigers in India is estimated at between 3,000 and 3,500.

A senior forest department official lamented that it was very hard to nab the kingpins of the poaching gangs.

"Old methods of killing tigers using guns are outdated. The gangs now employ villagers living near the forests to kill tigers. The villagers generally poison the tigers as it reduces the chances of being caught," the official told IANS.

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