Central Indian states turning out to be killing fields for the big cat in India

Central Indian states turning out to be killing fields for the big cat in India



A Bengal tiger checks out the conditions before getting into the canal at Sundarban Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India. Photo by: Soumyajit Nandy / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.
A Bengal tiger checks out the conditions before getting into the canal at Sundarban Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India. Photo by: Soumyajit Nandy / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

By Shrishti Chaubey

India has the highest number of tigers in the wild. However, certain central Indian states are recording more tiger deaths in the last one and half years. According to the recent data on tiger mortality in India compiled by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh recorded almost 38 percent of the total 47 tiger deaths in the country so far this year. It topped the list last year also with 42 tiger deaths which was 33 percent of the total tiger deaths at that time.

Apparently, Madhya Pradesh tops the Indian states in tiger population too. The last tiger population census in 2018 recorded 526 big cats in the state. It would seem that this is the reason for the high mortality figures for the state.

But Karnataka with the second largest tiger population of 524 in 2018 contributed a mere 11 percent of the total tiger deaths last year. Its contribution stays at 15 percent this year so far.

This draws a stark contrast with Maharashtra, another state in central India, which had 312 tigers as per 2018 tiger census. But Maharashtra recorded 25 percent of total tiger deaths in India last year while the figure for the state stands at 21 percent so far. The figures indicate that these central Indian states need to up their game in tiger conservation.

Tiger deaths in India outside protected areas

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve of Madhya Pradesh registered maximum deaths in the past 4 months. Out of 47 total tiger deaths recorded this year so far, 28 were from inside a protected area and 19 were outside the tiger reserves. Last year 64 tiger deaths were from inside the protected area and 63 were from outside. As of February 2022, India has 52 tiger reserves approximately spanning an area of 70000 square kilometers.

India is slated to conduct its next tiger census this year to assess the present status of its tiger population in the wild.

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Sebastian Kunju

Freelance Journalist who covers research and news updates about biodiversity conservation in India.

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