RTI reply says total 53 tigers perished in the region during the period
Nagpur: The ferocious hunter was hunted albeit cowardly by humans. Not one but 17 tigers were killed by poachers in Vidarbha over a period of two and half years. In fact, as many as 53 tigers died due to natural reasons,poaching and accidents in the region from January 1, 2017 to July 31, 2019. The iconic T1 tigress ‘Avni’ is one of the big cats that was shot dead on the night of November 2, 2018, following orders by Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court and the Chief Wildlife Warden.
The disturbing statistics have been revealed by Forest Department in response to an RTI query posed by activist Abhay Kolarkar. He had sought information regarding deaths of tigers occurred from January1, 2014 to July 31, 2019 but the department provided information for two-and-a-half years only.
According to reply, in 2017, nine tigers were poached while the figure was three in 2018 and five in 2019. Of the total tigers, 31 tigers died due to natural reasons while four tigers were killed in different accidents. It only referred to a poaching case of a tiger by way of electrocution occurred on November 11, 2016 in field belonging to Rekhabai Sundarshah Kodape in Dhanapur village, Kothari Forest Range in Central Chanda Division.
It gave no account of tiger deaths from 2014 to 2016 even after asked for. The department provided information about highest number of poaching of tigers in 2017. Six tigers were killed by way of electrocution and three due to poisoning at Khapa, Nagbhir, Pipariya-Deolarpar range in Pench Tiger Reserve, Karanja, Chamorshi, Chimur and Paoni areas. The department filed two cases in the court while investigation is on in five cases. The department also gave details about poaching of eight tigers in 2018 and 19 in Moharli, Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, Paoni in Umred Karandla Wildlife Sanctuary, Nakadongri in Bhandara district, Chimur in Chandrapur district and Chaurakund in Melghat Tiger Reserve.
Further, the Forest Department said that the number of tigers in Maharashtra was 190 as per All India Tiger Estimation Programme held in 2014. Kolarkar wanted jungle-wise number of tigers but it is not available in the programme. The department found 203 tigers after conducting camera trap estimation in Maharashtra in 2014-15. It mentioned that as many as 312 tigers exist in Maharashtra, following tiger estimation conducted in 2018.