Are tiger deaths being suppressed?

Updated: Nov 09, 2016, 10:51 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav |

According to a wildlife enthusiasts group ClaW, the national authority’s data is not recording all the deaths, as nine tiger deaths are not accounted for; authority rubbishes claim and says it is the only authentic source for tally

Something sinister is afoot in the wildlife, at least according to a group of wildlife enthusiasts. Member of Conservation Lenses And Wildlife (ClaW) claim that the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) data is under reporting cases of tiger deaths as its data of 76 deaths between January and October in 2016 is at odds with the group’s estimate — with data to back that claim — of 85 tigers in the same period.

Let’s talk numbers
According to the data released by Tigernet, a collaboration between NTCA and Traffic India, states that there have been 78 deaths in 2016 till now, as against 69 deaths in the same period in 2015. The website also states that in 2016, there were 20 cases of tiger body parts seized as against 8 last year.

The highest death rate was reported in Madhya Pradesh with 25, while Maharashtra and Karnataka follow up with 13 deaths each. Breaking down the cause of deaths, 14 tigers died naturally, 11 died of infighting, 7 died of poaching, while 2 were eliminated as they were problematic animals, and one each was either a victim of drowning, electrocution, or road/rail accident; remaining are still being ascertained.

However, ClaW claims that by way of news reports and information from the social networking sites, there are allegedly more than 85 tiger deaths, and it is being suppressed.

Sarosh Lodhi, one of the founder members of ClaW, said, “We have been independently maintaining the list of tiger mortality. We are already at 123 per cent of total mortality in 2015, with almost two more months to go. Since tigers in India account for 70 per cent of the population worldwide, we are answerable to the world. Take steps now, before it’s too late.”

What does the NTCA say?
In reply to a questionnaire, Dr Vaibhav C Mathur, Assistant Inspector General National Tiger Conservation Authority, said, “Only when a death is confirmed and reported by the state; or information is provided by the state when solicited based on specific requests, is the tiger death registered in our records. Data being published in various dailies from sources other than our official website is not authentic and is tantamount to violation of extant laws in place because the same has not been disclosed to state authorities and is randomly being brought out.”

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