Concerning Threat To National Animal: 202 Tigers Died This Year

Concerning Threat To National Animal: 202 Tigers Died This Year

New Delhi: Recent reports on the tiger census and tiger mortality indicate a concerning threat to India’s national animal. Published just six months after the 50th anniversary of Project Tiger, the report reveals that 202 tigers have died in India this year, marking the highest mortality rate in a decade. The Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) compiled the report, covering the period from January 2023 to 24 December.

As per the 2022 tiger census, India currently houses 3,682 tigers in its forests. According to the WPSI report, out of the 202 tiger deaths this year, 147 were attributed to natural causes, while 55 resulted from hunting. In comparison, the previous year saw 143 tiger deaths, comprising 104 natural deaths and 39 predatory deaths. Maharashtra recorded the highest number of tiger deaths, surpassing 50 for the first time, with 52 fatalities. Madhya Pradesh, the state with the largest tiger population, ranked second with 47 tiger deaths.

 National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) figures reveal a rising trend since 2012, with 96 deaths in 2019, 106 in 2020, 127 in 2021, and 121 in 2022. Notably, NTCA data for the current year is not updated beyond November 30 and may be higher. Maharashtra alone witnessed the demise of five tigers in December, mainly due to poaching and electrocution, according to Bandu Dhotre, a former member of the state wildlife board. Maharashtra also recorded the highest number of tigers killed by a gang of Bavarian poachers in Haryana and Punjab.

In the broader context of wildlife, the report reveals that between January 2023 and December 24, 544 kalara patria tigers(tiger with stripes) have died, with 392 deaths attributed to natural causes and 152 to predatory ones. In 2022, leopard deaths totaled 518, including 356 natural deaths and 162 predatory deaths.

While a member of the NTCA suggests that the tiger population is increasing and the mortality rate is within acceptable limits. But a senior tiger expert questions this assertion. National data indicates a 39% increase in tiger deaths, surpassing 50% in Maharashtra. Experts argue that insufficient forest space for tigers poses a significant challenge to their conservation efforts.