The Union Environment Ministry on Friday revealed that over 237 tigers died in the country in the last two years.
“In 2016, 122 tigers died across the country while 115 died in 2017,” Minister of State for Environment Mahesh Sharma told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
Around 23 per cent of total deaths of the tigers between 2012 to 2017 were due to poaching, the minister said, adding, Madhya Pradesh accounts for the highest number of tiger deaths in the country.
And, 55 per cent of the tiger deaths between 2012 to 2017 were due to natural causes while seven per cent were attributed due to unnatural causes, minister said.
He said 23 per cent (of tigers) died due to poaching while 15 per cent have been tiger body part or derivative seizures.
However, the government asserted that unnatural deaths “have not had an impact on tiger numbers which are growing at the rate of 5.8 per cent per annum”.
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) coordinates with other tiger range countries, like Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China and Russia for sharing information on tiger skin seizures, to ascertain their source and ensure conviction of criminals.
“Government through Project Tiger and National Tiger Conservation Authority, has taken a number of initiatives towards anti-poaching operations. These include creation of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF), formulation of Security Plan guidelines which form part of the overarching Tiger Conservation Plan (TCP), development of a security audit framework and creation of an online wildlife crime database,” the minister said.
Asked whether the government has assessed the impact of such unnatural deaths on the growth of the number of tigers, he said, “Unnatural deaths have not had an impact on tiger numbers which are growing at the rate of 5.8 per cent per annum.”
Sharma said the National Tiger Conservation Authority has a collaborative project with the Wildlife Institute of India to customize drones for various tasks including surveillance in 13 tiger landscapes.
(With inputs from agencies)