An adult tiger from Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in Uttar Pradesh brutally beaten to death by villagers on July 24; 12 tigers dying due to electrocution in last 2.5 years and 5 tigers being poisoned to death in last six months in Maharashtra alone.
These are just indicators about the threats tigers face and also raises doubts whether conservation is heading in right direction. Even if figures released by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), a NGO working for wildlife law enforcement, are considered, there is spurt in tiger body parts seizures indicating rise in poaching. In 2018, of the 104 tiger deaths recorded in India, 43 were unnatural including 34 due to poaching, 4 shot dead or killed by villagers and 3 dying in accidents.
“Till July 25 this year, 76 tiger deaths have been recorded, more than 70% of the total deaths in 2018. These include 31 due to poaching,” says Tito Joseph, programme coordinator of WPSI. The figures indicate that the highest-tiger-holding status with India is itself a challenge for tiger conservation.
The county’s tiger habitats are under critical conditions facing tremendous anthropogenic as well as development pressure as a result of which tigers are killed in human attacks, poaching, human-centric acts and linear projects. “Tigers could not even adopt natural behaviour for survival or avoid internal specie competition due to loss of large natural forest cover.
Even fragmented forest patches are hardly available for their survival. This is the biggest challenge India faces to manage tiger populations,” says Prafulla Bhamburkar, coordinator of Maharashtra, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). This year, Maharashtra lost 15 tigers, of which 6 deaths were due to poisoning (3 in Chimur) and 3 due to body parts seizure after electrocution in Bhandara district. The state is second to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh which lost 17 tigers in last 7 months.