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Rise in Tiger Skin Seizures Raises Doubts over Conservation efforts




The New Indian Express,Chennai, 5th September, 2014


CHENNAI: The alarming rise in poaching of tigers has raised serious questions over the efficacy of conservation efforts aimed at preserving the big cats in the country.


Sample this: eight cases of tiger skins seizures from poachers were reported in as many months this year, according to the latest figures of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The fact that it is three less than that the number of cases recorded by an NGO working in the field may not come as a consolation.


According to NTCA, three of these cases were reported in Maharashtra, and two each in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. In comparison, there were five cases in the previous year — two in UP and one each in Kerala, MP and Karnataka. No cases were reported from Tamil Nadu in 2013.


“For a tribal, even `5,000 is a big amount for a tiger skin. But our decoy found that the starting price in the shady international market is around `1 crore. China is the biggest market for tiger skins, as people there regard possessing it as a matter of pride. Its body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine to enhance virility,” said a senior forest department official.


Putting the overall tiger deaths this year so far at 41, forest officials said this could be due to various other factors like ageing, territorial fighting and fatal injuries. A majority of the deaths, 12, were reported in Madhya Pradesh, that has the largest number of tigers in the country in its 6 reserves, followed by 8 in Tamil Nadu, and five in Assam and Uttarakhand.


In 2013, there were 63 tiger deaths with Karnataka, which reportedly has 10 per cent of the country’s big cats, accounting for 14 deaths, while Maharashtra comes second with 10 and Madhya Pradesh with 9.