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126 tiger deaths, the highest in a decade reported in 2021

According to NTCA, the country has registered 126 tiger deaths this year, the highest in a decade

The year end doesn’t spell well for the wildlife and animal lovers of the country, as the National Tiger Conservation Authority has reported 126 tiger deaths in 2021 – the highest in a decade.

Sixty of these 126, according to NTCA, died due to poaching, man-animal conflict outside the protected areas and accidents.

NTCA has been maintaining the record of the public deaths of the felines since 2012.

The data this year has led to concern among the wildlife experts and officials with demand for rigorous conservation efforts and initiatives, especially in the reserve forest areas.

The break-up of the figures shows that Madhya Pradesh which has a population of 526 tigers, has registered 41 deaths, the highest number, followed by Maharashtra which has 312 tigers and lost 25, while Karnataka with 524 tigers has registered 15 deaths. Uttar Pradesh with 173 tigers, showed a figure of nine deaths.

Wildlife expert suggested that the death toll could be higher as many of the natural deaths occurring in the reserve are not reported.

Officials insist that to check these rising death figures, urgent steps are required to especially mitigate man-animal conflict by designating and ensuring clear passages and corridors to enable the tigers to move to other forests. This is important considering that tigers can cover hundreds of kilometres in search of territories, thus requiring clear passages and corridors.

Expansion of human settlement and activities has led to considerable pressure on reserved forests, blocking the corridors in many places. The big cats have tried to adapt to the situation like in Uttar Pradesh many have been found living in sugarcane fields or social forestry areas.

Experts also feel that involvement of the locals is necessary by sensitising and making them aware about tigers and leopards. Talking to TOI, Dr. Mudit Gupta, WWF-India State Coordinator who is working with the forest departments of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh said: “We started a campaign called Bagh-Mitra in UP, in which we shortlisted people from villages adjacent to forest areas. The role of these bagh mitra was to sensitise local residents, help them understand the behaviour of tigers and leopards, identify pug marks, and provide support during rescue operations. This worked quite well. Similar measures could be taken in other States to reduce deaths due to conflict.”