Tribune News Service
Mumbai, October 31
Touted as a success story in tiger conservation after the population of the big cat doubled in Maharashtra between 2010 and 2019, the state has seen a big spike in their deaths over the past few years.
According to information available from the National Tiger Conservation Authority sourced by the Maharashtra forest department, Maharashtra lost 14 tigers in the whole of 2017 and 20 in 2018.
The death toll of the feline in the nine months of this year is already 17, according to sources. Officials say, most of the deaths are caused by natural causes. Around five of the tiger deaths this year have been caused by poaching, say officials.
“The number of tigers dying in accidents is also increasing as a number of infrastructure projects are being taken up near the tiger reserves,” says a forest department official.
Despite efforts by the local police and rangers to curb the menace, farmers in the vicinity of tiger reserves like the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve continue to use electric fences. Last year five tigers died of electrocution while the number fell to three this year.
The increase in deaths of tigers in Maharashtra comes at time when their population doubled in the state over the past nine years. The number of tigers estimated to be in the state rose from 103 in 2006 to 168 in 2010 which went up to 190 in 2014. Earlier this year, the number of tigers in the wild in Maharashtra was estimated at 312. The total number of tigers in the wild in India is estimated to be around 2967, according to the NTCA.
Earlier this year, Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had attributed Maharashtra’s success in tiger conservation to the policy of relocating villagers living in the core areas of tiger reserves. In the past decade Maharashtra has relocated 30 villages in the forest areas.
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