By Jose Kurian
Kozhikode: Around 20 tigers have died in the jungles of Wayanad district in the 10 years since 2004 from various causes, including age related ailments, according to the data of the forest department. Poaching does not seem to be responsible for any of them, claim wildlife officers.
While as many as 14 tigers were found dead in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWF) alone, other tigers were found dead in the two forest divisions of the district. Four of the tigers which died in the sanctuary were over 10 years old. According to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) of the five tigers who died in the state last year four were from Wayanad. In 2012 a maneater tiger was shot dead in the district.
Interestingly, rather than organized poachers out to kill the big cats for their skin and bones, man-animal conflict, clashes among tigers and age related ailments were more responsible for the deaths, claim forest officers.
South Wayanad DFO, G Dhaneshkumar says the tiger deaths are quite natural as Wayanad is located in a strategic zone of the Nilgiri biosphere, spread over three states. “There are about 70 tigers roaming the region every day and many of them are of over 10 years old. The maximum life of a tiger in the wild is 12 years and in captivity, 15,” he explains.
Wildlife conservator of forests, Pramod G Krishnan too claims almost all the deaths are due to natural causes and there is no reasons to panic over them. “None of the cases are poaching related and the forest department is actively engaged in wildlife protection,” he adds.