Website on big cat death to keep ‘number row’ in check
M Madhusudan New Delhi
Friday, January 1, 2010
Come New Year and tracking every tiger death in the country will now be just a mouse click away.
Starting January 6, India will have a dedicated Website http://www.tigernet.nic.in/ to report on every big cat mortality — be it within the 37 tiger reserves in 17 States or outside.
“The outcome of a collaboration between the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Traffic-India, an NGO engaged in wildlife trade monitoring, the Website will not only serve as a platform for online reporting of tiger deaths but also help avoid any controversy over their numbers,” official sources said.
For, there has been a difference in the number of tiger deaths reported by the Government and NGOs like the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) making it “tough” for the Government to put the records straight.
According to official statistics, as many as 59 tiger deaths were reported from across the country in 2009 till December 8. Of the 59, 15 were “poached” while the remaining 44 died due to “illness and other causes”. Madhya Pradesh topped the charts with 13 tiger deaths followed by Assam (10), Karnataka (9) and Uttarakhand (7).
In fact, 2009 saw more than a two-fold increase in the number of tiger deaths compared to 2008 and almost a two-fold increase compared to 2007. In all, 28 big cats were killed in 2008 and 30 in 2007. NGOs, nevertheless, peg the number of tiger deaths at more than 65 in 2009. India’s last tiger census put their total number at 1,411.
Sources said the field directors of all the 37 reserves will be provided with a password to report online about the death of a tiger in their respective jurisdiction. “Training will also be provided to them about the process to go about the task. The Website will also have information about the post-mortem results of the dead tigers besides other associated ones,” they maintained. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh will launch the Website.
So far, the NTCA, which also has another Website on project tiger, had been maintaining the records of the deaths manually.