World Tiger Day: 44% Rise in Tiger Deaths in Past Decade
75 tigers have died so far this year, which is 2.5% of India's tiger population, showed National Tiger Conservation Authority data
India, which is home to 75% of the world's tiger population, has seen a 44.3% rise in tiger deaths in the last decade. In fact, just in the last seven months of 2022, 75 tigers or 2.5% of the country's tiger population have died, according to data from National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
According to the latest tiger census in 2018, the tiger population has increased to 2,967, which is highest in the world. More than a third (1,033) of these live in Central India, followed by 33% in the Western Ghats, 22% in the Gangetic area and 7.3% in the north-eastern and Brahmaputra regions.
Tiger deaths too have increased from 88 in 2012 to 127 in 2021. So much so that 1,059 tigers have died in the country in the past decade, with the highest deaths in 2021 (127). The year 2016 came a close second with 121 tiger deaths, followed by 2017 when 117 tigers died.
The tiger death toll of the past decade is nearly equal to the tiger population of Central India. In these 10 years, Madhya Pradesh (244) recorded the highest number of tiger deaths, followed by Maharashtra (168) and Karnataka (138).
Jharkhand, Gujarat, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh are the states that saw the least number of tiger deaths with one each in all the 10 years.
In the eight years between 2012 and 2019, Madhya Pradesh's Kanha Tiger Reserve (43) reported the most tiger deaths followed by Karnataka's Nagarahole (41) and Bandipur (38) Tiger Reserves.
The NTCA data also show that winter months of December (94) and January (97) saw the highest number of tiger deaths, whereas August (47) and September (41) saw the least.
In just the past seven months, NTCA recorded 75 tiger deaths with Madhya Pradesh (27) reporting the most, followed by Maharashtra (15) and Karnataka (12).
In the past decade, over 55% tigers (478 tiger deaths) died inside tiger reserves, more than 31% (271) outside the reserves and over 12% (108) of poaching. While Union Minister Bhupender Yadav said in February 2022 that the average lifespan of tigers in the wild is generally between 10-12 years, the number of tigers dying of natural causes in India has been constantly decreasing since 2016.
Meanwhile incidents of poaching-related deaths increased between 2016 and 2018 and then dropped in 2019. While 25 tigers died of poaching in 2016, 33 died in 2017 and 34 in 2018. This number dropped to 17 in 2019.
According to a joint report by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), published in July 2021, 35% of India's tiger range is outside protected areas. Over the last three years, there have been 125 incidents of human-tiger conflict in the country, according to data presented in the Lok Sabha in July 2022.
However, these incidents have seen a 38% dip between 2019 and 2021. With 61 cases, Maharashtra saw the most human-tiger conflict cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh (25), West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh reporting 7 cases each.
The latest attack this year occurred on July 16, 2022, when a tiger allegedly attacked two youths riding a motorcycle in Mohan, near the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Almora district, reported Down to Earth.
In February, 2022, concerns were raised on the approval of 31 infrastructure projects running through Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary, in Madhya Pradesh. The sanctuary, which is in the process of being notified as a tiger reserve, was found to have over 45 tigers in 2018. This number has reportedly increased to around 70, The New Indian Express reported.
Similarly, over four years to May 2018, the NDA government approved 519 infrastructure and industrial projects--many in violation of India's environmental laws — in protected areas and "eco-sensitive zones" at nearly twice the rate than the previous UPA government did.