India's tiger fatalities are rising steadily; the country has lost 48 tigers in the last 22 weeks, with Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand and the Tadoba Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra being the hardest hit by poaching.At least 19 tigers were victims of poaching
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) confirmed that 19 of these deaths are clear-cut cases of poaching but wildlife experts claim poaching deaths could be much higher. 48 tiger deaths in 6 months compares with 56 tiger deaths reported in the whole of 2010 and 52 reported in 2011.
A sharp rise in poaching has created a situation where, according to the minister in charge, "tiger reserve states are now afraid to report mortality of a tiger. But in order to ensure that all deaths do get reported, we now insist that someone from NTCA will be present for the post-mortem of a tiger."
Deputy inspector general of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Mr S.P. Yadav, admits that one of the NTCA's biggest weaknesses has been in the field of intelligence gathering. "Intelligence gathering is the backbone of anti-poaching activities. Delay in reaction allows the poacher to get the upper hand," he said.
Detailed security plan
The NTCA has mooted the setting up of an anti-poaching force, with Karnataka being the first state to put this into practice. It has also launched a detailed security plan for these tiger reserves and already thermal cameras are operational in the southern part of Corbett National Park.
"With constant pressure from Far Eastern markets for tiger parts it has never been more important for us to come together to secure precious tiger habitats," says David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) CEO, Melanie Shepherd. "Our work In India, Thailand and Russia is helping to maintain the stability of tiger populations in these areas but we need to keep up the fight to protect the wild tiger."