A conservation crisis. The year 2021 arrived with a hope of change and breaking the shackles of the Covid pandemic and its associated sociopolitico- economic repercussions. In India, it has brought forward a bleak picture of failing wildlife conservation efforts. Reports by Conservation Lenses and Wildlife (CLaW), indicates that during the first 81 days of 2021, 39 enigmatic royal Bengal tigers lost their lives whereas official sources reported 16 tiger deaths. The causes were physical injuries, habitat loss or impact with speeding vehicles. Maharashtra heads this list followed closely by the state of Madhya Pradesh.

The alarming part of this conservation catastrophe is that 10 of these tigers died as a result of human wildlife conflict. Four tigers were poisoned to death at Umred-Karhandla- Paoni Wildlife Sanctuary (UKPWS), Maharashtra. Others were killed when they transgressed in human settlements following territorial disputes with other tigers.

Human-wildlife conflict is the negative interaction between humans and wildlife, resulting in serious obstacles in wildlife protection efforts. Only awareness and local participation in conservation projects can manage this issue.

Forest fire cases have been reported from all corners of the nation. Things add up to the conservation crisis.

Forest tracks at Kullu and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh burned for days in the pristine Western Himalayan ecosystem before they could be contained. Dzukou Valley, nestled between the North-eastern states of Nagaland and Manipur in the Indo- Burma biodiversity hotspot, burned for two weeks in the month of January. This region is noted across the world for its endemic biodiversity. A report focused on the fact that seven out of 11 critically endangered mammals can be traced in the untouched montane, submontane and rain forest ecosystems of North-eastern India. Fifty-four per cent of India’s threatened mammals, 68 per cent of birds and 63 per cent of reptiles can be found in this region.

#TigerNews: Read the full article on The Statesman, published on April 15, 2021.