New Delhi: India has lost 844 tigers in the past 10 years, and shockingly half of them – 429 tigers — were killed by poachers.

The sensational revelation was made in an RTI filed by Noida based activist Ranjan Tomar. The reply by central body National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) shows how the number of tiger deaths is only increasing and no check on poaching of this endangered animal could be done. 

As per the RTI data, in 2009, 66 tigers died in the country with Madhya Pradesh recording the maximum number of death, i.e. 15, followed by 11 deaths in Karnataka.

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This number was 53 in 2010 with Assam and Maharashtra recoding maximum deaths as eight tigers died in both the states each. The figure of tiger deaths was reported to be 56 in 2011. A man-eater tiger was also killed in that year. 

From 2012 onwards the number of death toll started rising. As many as 88 tigers were killed in 2012. Similarly, in the year 2013, 2014 and 2015 death toll of tigers were 68,79 and 82 respectively.

The year 2016 was worst for tigers as the death toll rose to 120. Since then the number of tiger deaths is above 100. In 2017 the country lost 116 tigers and similarly, in 2018 102 of these big cats lost their lives. Despite several measures taken by the central government, there was no decline in tiger deaths.

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“It is shocking that despite so much hue and cry we could not control the death of tigers which are at the top of food chain. More worrying is the fact that these endangered animals are being killed by poachers. The data makes it clear that successive governments have not been able to check the killing of tigers by poachers. The situation is alarming,” Tomar told MyNation.  

The NTCA maintains the official database of tiger mortality in the country and compiles figures from reports sent by different states on the basis of recovery of bodies or seizure of body parts.

As many as 429 tigers have been killed by poachers in India in the last 10 years. Between 2008 and 2018 (till November), 961 persons have been arrested for allegedly poaching tigers.

Tomar raised a serious concern of poaching numbers being downplayed by the government. “This matter is quite sensitive as many cases are still under probe so it is likely that the number of death due to poaching is much higher. It cannot be ruled out that to show a lesser number of causality due to hunting some of the cases may be shown as death due to territorial fight or natural reasons,” Tomar highlighted.

For conservation of the country’s national animal, the government had launched ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973. As per a 2014 assessment by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, India has the highest number of tigers in the world at 2,226.