Tiger Conservation: Are we on the right track?

Lalit Shastri

kanha3It is a pity and such shame for humanity the way the tiger population has been dwindling. Poachers have kept striking at will. The tiger habitat has been methodically encroached – an activity diabolically supported by politicians to win votes and stay riveted to power. Whatever remains of the tiger habitat is being plundered by the mining mafia and illegal fellers or else the so called stakeholders who are robbing the forests and the entire biodiversity base through reckless grazing and minor forest produce collection. Let us go back a few years. In 2009 Panna Tiger Reserve, not far from Bandhavgarh where this sordid killing of a tiger cub took place last week, all the tigers had been eliminated. After a few years of relocating and breeding under controlled conditions Panna is again boasting of tiger numbers. At least I am not proud of Panna. I am not interested in authorities flaunting tiger numbers because what is required is protection of forests and their corridors to such an extent that there is no man animal conflict and tigers are left with the necessary privacy and prey base to ensure they breed and thrive in their natural surrounding.

Lets take a closer look at the State of affairs in the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. Between January and December 2014, 13 tiger deaths were reported in Madhya Pradesh and 8f these 13 cases of tiger mortality were in Bandhavgarh. On February 8, a mortality due to infighting was reported from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. May onwards last year, the Bandhavgarh Reserve came under sharp focus as tigers started dying in this territory under unnatural circumstances and in quick succession. Tiger mortality was reported from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve on May 13, 28 and 29, July 16, and August 5, 6, 8 and 18.

Union Minister for Environment and Forest Prakash Jawadekar had admitted in Parliament on July 16, 2014, that poaching of wild animals and illegal trade of their body parts is a serious issue but at the same time he also told the House that there has been a drop in tiger mortality due to poaching as there has been a drop in seizure from a high of 59 in 2012 to 5 during the first six months this year. The number of tiger poaching-mortality cases recorded in 2010 was 28 and 16 in 2011. On the basis of these figures, Mr. Jawadekar told Lok Sabha: “the efforts of the Government are also bearing results.” There is a section both within and outside the state forest department that admits that more and more tigers are getting killed in Bandhavgarh due to “man-animal conflict. A forester said that the surrounding villages and interference of local leaders in the Protected Area is aggravating the situation. There are indications that due to cattle loss, and also to meet the objective of keeping a certain area tiger-free for nistar, firewood and minor forest produce collection purpose, the villagers resort to revenge killings and also use the methods used by poachers to eliminate the tigers. Hence drop in seizure of tiger body parts cannot be used as the ultimate barometer to point out that poaching mortality cases are now on the decline as Mr. Jawadekar did while replying to a query in Parliament. The Minister should be told that even revenge killings by farmers amounts to poaching and there are no dearth of such cases in and around Bandhawavgarh and other parts of the country.

The traditional hunting tribes like the Pardhis in Central India and Maharashtra cannot be wished away. There are wide gaps and lack of continuity when it comes to making focussed efforts to bring the Pardhi population into the national mainstream. Pardhis on the move (photo by Anil Yadav)A large number of those belonging to the Pardhi community still continue to live in the hunting and gathering stage. These traditional hunters identify the water holes, have full knowledge of salt licks, they know the tiger habitat like the palm of their hands and keep a close eye on the core forest areas where conditions are supposed to be ideal for breeding. These tribals provide inside information to the smugglers and the agents reporting to the kingpins running the smuggling racket from India to Nepal, China and other South-east Asian countries where the demand for tiger body parts refuses to die down and the world community is failing to bring pressure on the governments concerned to act for the cause of tiger and other wildlife conservation.

The death of a 3-year old tigress in the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh in May 2010 had raised several questions. Everyone knows that the tigress was fatally hit by a vehicle carrying tourists near a water hole at Jhurjhura on the Tala-Jhurjhura track. After this incident, a probe was launched but till date the culprits continue to go scot free. No one has been held accountable for allowing vehicles to carrying tourists to leave the specified tracks and venture close to the tigers even when they were supposed to be in the privacy of the core area near the water holes. Even now this is happening that too at night with flood lights to entertain VIPs. Every who has been to Bandhavgarh is aware of the mad rush of tourists trying to spot the tiger. Their rashly driven vehicles, racing with each other, only disrupt the tranquility of the forest and further threaten the endangered wildlife.



Tiger, Mortality – 2014.
Serial No Date Location State Cause of Death / Seizure Info Other Info
1 10 Jan 2014 Raipur Range, Melghat Tiger Reserve, Comptt. 271
Maharashtra Details Awaited
2 21 Jan 2014 North Nilgiri Division, Near Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
3 23 Jan 2014 Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve, Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh Details Awaited
4 23 Jan 2014 Ooty, Nilgiris North Tamil Nadu A tiger shot dead by a Police personnel near Ooty. (Under Investigation) Details Awaited
5 24 Jan 2014 Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
Tamil Nadu In Fighting
6 25 Jan 2014 Ulandi Range, Anamalai Tiger Reserve
Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
7 31 Jan 2014 Katoldih, Bhaisanghat, Kanha Tiger Reserve, 238
Madhya Pradesh Pneumonia
8 8 Feb 2014 Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
Madhya Pradesh Details Awaited
9 9 Feb 2014 Sunaghat, Kisli, Kanha Tiger Reserve, 795
Madhya Pradesh In Fighting
10 16 Feb 2014 Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu Poaching by poisoning using organophosphorous compounds
11 20 Feb 2014 Burapahar Range of Lahorani forest camp at the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve
Assam Details Awaited
12 10 Mar 2014 Bagaha 2 Block, Madanpur, Valmiki Tiger Reserve, M7
Bihar Chronic Respiratory disease
13 11 Mar 2014 Digdola, Kisli, Kanha Tiger Reserve, 696
Madhya Pradesh In Fighting
14 17 Mar 2014 Anamalai Tiger Reserve
Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
15 19 Mar 2014 Kaziranga Tiger Reserve
Assam Details Awaited
16 21 Mar 2014 East Gadapu Beat Co. No. N-1, of Pipal Padav Range Uttarakhand Details Awaited
17 25 Mar 2014 Mora Gyati under Banshar Range of Manas Tiger Reserve
Assam Details Awaited
18 9 Apr 2014 Nagarhole Tiger Reserve
Karnataka Details Awaited
19 15 Apr 2014 Gebua Terai West Forest Division Uttarakhand Details Awaited
20 15 Apr 2014 Valmiki Tiger Reserve
Bihar Details Awaited
21 18 Apr 2014 Chethalyath Forest Range Under the South Wayanad Forest division Kerala Details Awaited
22 19 Apr 2014 Orang National Park Assam Details Awaited
23 3 May 2014 Near Ramganga in Jameria block kalagarh Division Uttarakhand Details Awaited
24 13 May 2014 Bandhavgarh National park
Madhya Pradesh Details Awaited
25 22 May 2014 Mungraha Range, Valmiki Tiger Reserve, Compartment No. S53
Bihar Infighitng
26 23 May 2014 NES Range, Nilgiris North Division Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
27 28 May 2014 Dhamokar, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
Madhya Pradesh Retaliatory killing by electrocution
28 29 May 2014 Lavgur, South Balaghat Division Madhya Pradesh Details Awaited
29 9 Jun 2014 Nugu Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur
Karnataka Details Awaited
30 10 Jun 2014 Bornoloni, Western Range, Kaziranga
Assam Details Awaited
31 24 Jun 2014 Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Core Area
Maharashtra Details Awaited
32 30 Jun 2014 Sonanadi/Kalagarh/Corbett
Uttarakhand Details Awaited
33 14 Jul 2014 Bospara, Mudumalai
Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
34 16 Jul 2014 Hardia, Tala Core range, Bandhavgarh, 313
Madhya Pradesh Cardio Respiratory failure
35 17 Jul 2014 Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
Kerala Details Awaited
36 19 Jul 2014 Chandrapur, Central Chanda, Tadoba Andhari Maharashtra Shot dead by the sharp shooters of Chandrapur Police. Details Awaited
37 30 Jul 2014 Ramnagar, COmptt 40, Feeka Beat, jaspur Range, Terai West Division, Corbett Uttarakhand Details Awaited
38 3 Aug 2014 Omkara Range, Bandipur
Karnataka Details Awaited
39 6 Aug 2014 Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
Madhya Pradesh Details Awaited
40 6 Aug 2014 Kanha Tiger Reserve
Madhya Pradesh Old age
41 8 Aug 2014 Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
Madhya Pradesh Details Awaited
42 8 Aug 2014 Bandhavgarh
Madhya Pradesh Details Awaited
43 24 Aug 2014 Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
44 4 Sep 2014 Nainital, Corbett Uttarakhand Details Awaited
45 19 Sep 2014 Panna Tiger Reserve
Madhya Pradesh Details Awaited
46 24 Sep 2014 Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
Tamil Nadu Cardio Respiratory failure
47 28 Sep 2014 Biligiri Ranganatha Temple
Karnataka Details Awaited
48 5 Oct 2014 Masinagudi, Mudumalai
Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
49 16 Oct 2014 Mahof, Pilibhit Tiger Reserve
Uttar Pradesh Details Awaited
50 26 Oct 2014 Umred WLS Maharashtra Details Awaited
51 10 Nov 2014 Mudumalai
Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
52 12 Nov 2014 Chamorishi Range, Alapalli Division, Tadoba Andhari Maharashtra Details Awaited
53 28 Nov 2014 Terai West Division, Corbett Uttarakhand Details Awaited
54 30 Nov 2014 Mundiareeth, Khawasa Buffer, Pench, 326
Madhya Pradesh Details Awaited
55 4 Dec 2014 Talamalai Range, Sathyamangalam
Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
56 7 Dec 2014 Orang National Park, Mangaldoi Wildlife Division Assam Details Awaited
57 8 Dec 2014 Bandipur
58 9 Dec 2014 Lakhimpur, Dudhwa Uttar Pradesh Details Awaited
59 16 Dec 2014 Shivni, Tadoba Andhari
Maharashtra Details Awaited
60 17 Dec 2014 Dodakulassi, Kurichiat Range, Waynad, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarahole/Bandipur, Karnataka Kerala Details Awaited
61 19 Dec 2014 Segur RF, Nilgiris North Division, Mudumalai Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
62 19 Dec 2014 Segur RF, Nigiris North Division, Mudumalai Tamil Nadu Details Awaited
63 28 Dec 2014 Dechauri range, Ramnagar forest division, Corbett Uttarakhand Details Awaited
64 29 Dec 2014 Bhimgad WLS Karnataka Details Awaited
65 31 Dec 2014 Kundukere, Bandipur
Karnataka Details Awaited
66 31 Dec 2014 Tadoba Andhari
Maharashtra Details Awaited

This database is a collaborative effort of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (A Statutory Body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India) and TRAFFIC-India the wildlife trade monitoring network.

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