Visakhapatnam: Though there is rapid growth in the tiger population in the country since 2006, poaching activities are also increasing.
Poachers have killed about 230 tigers since 2012. There have been 63 tiger deaths this year, seven of them at the hands of poachers. Many cases are still under scrutiny. Trends show that there is a rapid growth in tiger population after the Centre constituted the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in 2006.
According to the statistics, the total tiger population in the country in 2006 was 1,411. This had increased to 1,706 in 2010. By 2014, the tiger population increased to 2,226.
However, poaching activities too have increased. The total number of tiger deaths from 2012 to date is about 720 of which 369 are natural deaths, 35 unnatural deaths that don’t relate to poaching. The unnatural deaths account to conflicts with other animals or accidents. Around 144 tigers were poached and 84 were captured.
In the two Telugu states, about 12 tigers died during this period but only two were natural deaths and the rest were killed by poachers. Of the seven tiger deaths in Andhra Pradesh, two were natural, two killed by poachers and two were captured and one case is under scrutiny. In Telangana state, five tigers died, of which three are said to have been poached. Two tiger skins were seized.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, director of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state Farida Tampal said, “There must be rapid response teams to save the tigers and other animals after there was a man-animal conflict. We are losing most of the forest land and that is making the life of tigers vulnerable. Poaching gangs are organised and operating with huge networks. The forest department should expand the informer network and should focus on constant vigilance.”
Sniffer dogs are used in tiger reserves to detect wildlife crimes. There is a need to update the knowledge of forest staff as poachers are escaping using loopholes in the law. TRAFFIC India is focusing on capacity building of forest staff by training them about legal issues, wildlife crimes and other related issues.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, head of TRAFFIC India Saket Badola IFS said, “We have trained and deployed sniffer dogs that are capable of identifying wildlife crimes. Some of the dogs have helped to catch the tiger poachers too. Capacity building of forest staff is being taken up and it will boost the legal knowledge of the staff.”...