Almost half of tiger deaths in the last three years were reported outside tiger reserves
As the government prepares to release the latest assessment of the tiger population in the country, there is bad news for the big cat. At least 274 tigers have died in the last four years, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said in response to a question in the Parliament on November 26. This figure is the highest for any given period between two assessment cycles.
The findings of the 2014 tiger population census will be released by next month.
Of this number, only 82 tigers died due to natural reasons. More than 70 per cent of tiger deaths were due to poaching or reasons that forest departments have not been able to establish yet.
According to the 2010 census, India had approximately 1,706 tigers (between the lower limit of 1,520 and upper limit of 1,909). Between 2006 and 2010, around 180 tigers were reported to have died. From 2002 to 2006, 105 tigers had died, while 146 tigers were reported dead between 1998 and 2002.
According to S P Yadav, deputy inspector general with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), however, the death figures are unlikely to have any major effect on the tiger population. “Here, we are not taking tiger births into account. An adult tigress can give birth to younger ones every 90 days. If of 4-5 litters that a tigress gives birth to, even 1-2 survive, these numbers can be compensated,” he added.
NTCA officials say the present census is still being analysed. Whether the total population of tigers has risen despite the high mortality will be revealed by the census.
No policy for protection of tigers outside reserves
The government has hardly addressed the mortality of tigers outside tiger reserves. According to the figures given by Javadekar, almost half of total tiger deaths have been reported from outside tiger reserves (see tables). Of the 105 tigers that died outside tiger reserves in the last three years, only 13 are reported to have died due to natural reasons. Ninety-two tigers were either poached or the reasons for their deaths have not been identified.
As tiger conservation efforts turn into results, a huge number of big cats have either dispersed to or are living in forests outside tiger reserves. Government policy is, however, focused only on the reserves. There is no policy to effectively address habitat destruction, human-tiger conflicts and poaching outside reserves.
Tiger deaths inside tiger reserves
Tiger deaths outside tiger reserves
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