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Tiger death numbers in 2013 still unclear

According to new data compiled by the Wildlife Protection Society of India poaching of tigers in 2013 has been the highest in the past seven years. The seizure of two more tiger skins from the  Bijrani area of Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand on Monday has taken this year’s figure to 39 as against 31 last year.

The data claims that the total number of tiger deaths is 76, less compared to last year’s 89, but the number of poaching cases has shot up much to the dismay of conservationists.

By contrast, the number of tiger deaths compiled by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in collaboration with Traffic-India is much less than the WPSI figure. The NTCA record stands at 66 deaths so far for 2013 with the number of seizures at 5.

Questioning the official data, eminent wildlife conservationist Valmik Thapar said the job of compiling figures on tiger mortality should always be outsourced to organizations and NGOs who have the necessary expertise. ” NTCA should look after budget issues and guide the states on tiger conservation. In such cases, figures given by NGOs like WPSI are more reliable,” he said.

WPSI says its numbers are based on thorough field investigation and that it always verifies seizures and body parts with experts and field officers before making any claim.

A senior NTCA official, however, claimed several cases of tiger deaths this year were still under investigation. “Unless the probe is over we can’t be sure,” he said. Ironically, NTCA had in 2012 issued a directive saying all tiger deaths in the country would be treated as poaching unless proven otherwise. While NTCA figures show only one tiger death from Bengal’s Sunderbans this year, the central body is still probing if it was a case of poaching or natural death.

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Source: Economic Times of India

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