What kills most tigers? Even experts are clueless

Tiger mortality from 2009 to 2016A study by Association of Indian Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (AIZWV), which has been compiling a database on wild mammalian species with reference to morbidity and mortality, stated that in most cases of tiger deaths reported from 2009 to 2016, the specific reason could not be ascertained. 

According to the association, of the 28 tiger deaths that occurred in Uttar Pradesh from 2009 to 2016, nine were unspecified. Similarly, 30 out of 86 tiger deaths in Karnataka, 22 out of 73 in Maharashtra, 31 out of 137 in Madhya Pradesh, 20 out of 40 in Tamil Nadu, 11 out of 30 in Kerala, nine out of 83 in Uttarakhand and three out of 15 in Rajasthan were due to unspecified reasons.

BM Arora, president of AIZWV said, “We have prepared the report on tiger deaths in forest areas of eight states after collecting data from National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and through Right To Information Act (RTI). After analyzing the data, we found that in most of the states, the specific reason behind a majority of tiger deaths could not be ascertained. In a few cases, the reason is based on opinion or circumstances but the forest department in every state should focus on a holistic mortality investigation. It is necessary to know the accurate reason of death to identify the pattern and work on minimising mortality.”

The association said autopsies of animals should be done near forests. “Veterinarians are unable to diagnose the cause of death if the carcass is decomposed. Timely detection of carcass is necessary. Even post-mortem should be done immediately as much time is wasted in transporting the carcass from inside the forest to elsewhere and completion of formalities. In a few cases, carcasses are sent for autopsy 150 km or more from the forest area,” said Arora.

The association said they are compiling and analyzing data of other states too and once they get inputs from the entire country, they will send their report to the ministry of environment and forests with their recommendations. (Times of India)

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