Kaziranga losing its hold on tigers

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Kaziranga losing its hold on tigers

Satyajit Usham

Fri, Aug 28, 2009 12:34:39 IST

THOUGH KAZIRANGA National Park in the Northeastern state of India- Assam, still holds the unique distinction of being the only wildlife sanctuary having highest density of tiger population in the country, with report of six to seven tiger deaths on an average every year, the day would not be far when there would be no tiger left in the park even as tiger deaths continue at an alarming rate elsewhere in the country.

There are currently 24.5 tigers per sq km in Kaziranga National Park as against the other tiger reserved areas of the country, which is around 17 to 18 per 100 sq km.

According to a report, though the park famed for one-horned rhino, can still boost of highest density of tiger population in the country, the number of deaths of the royal big cats has been on the rise every year.

The report revealed that 11 tigers have been killed in the last 10 months. Between November 2008 and January 2009, about nine tigers were killed totalling the figure of tiger casualties in the park to 11 from November 2008 to August 2009.

Causes of deaths of tiger in Kaziranga Park have been attributed to several reasons like poaching, infighting and tiger-human conflict.

In addition to this, poisoning by villagers living on the fringes and shrinking of the habitat area have forced the big cats to stray into the neighbouring area thus resulting in retaliatory killing.

Taking serious note of the matter, wildlife conservationists in the region have sought the government to move the Tiger Foundation for three tiger reserves in Assam so as to sustain the popularity of Kaziranga being the haven for tigers.

The need of the hour has also been stressed on effective tiger conservation mechanism and a strong anti-poaching stand.

Elsewhere in the country, tiger deaths continue at an alarming rate with statistics provided by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), a prominent wildlife non-government, showing that at least 66 tigers lost their lives between January 1 and August 19 this year.

Of these, 23 died due to poaching and the remaining 43 died of a variety of reasons such as infighting, old age, tiger-human conflict, accidents and diseases.

According to the statistics of WPSI, in the last eight months, Uttarkhand in the North and Karnataka in the South have recorded particularly high numbers of tiger deaths. This illustrates that the problem exists throughout the country.

National tiger census figures released in January 2008 showed a mere 1,411 tigers alive as compared to 3,508 in 1997, showing a drastic drop of 60 per cent.

In the light of the above facts, efforts being made by the Centre to prepare the first-web based database on the endangered species to facilitate information exchange among the governments and agencies on illegal trade and the conservation plan in the country is appreciable.

To be modelled after the EU-Trade in Wildlife Information Exchange (EU TWIX), which is presently being used by over 431 wildlife law enforcement officials across 31 European countries and 93 enforcement agencies, including Interpol, the ‘Tigernet’ will be an exclusive tool to share information among the states on various aspects of tiger population ranging from illegal trade to their breeding.

The database is being prepared by the World Wild Life Fund (WWF) on behalf of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and it is likely to be launched by the end of this month.



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