Wednesday, December 18, 2013

India- Tiger Poaching at its Highest in Seven Years

A tiger in Corbett National Park

It has been reported that the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) has gathered data indicating that the poaching of tigers in 2013 has been recorded as the highest in the past seven years. A recent seizure of two or more tiger skins from Corbett National Park's Bijrani area in the state of Uttarakhand has increased this year's figure to 39 from 31 last year. While a total of 76 tiger deaths had been recorded this year compared to 89 last year, the number of poaching cases has skyrocketed much to the disappointment of conservationists. In 2005, India had recorded 46 cases poaching while 2006 saw 37 poaching incidents, but this year's figure is deemed as the highest. Interestingly, the data gathered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in association with TRAFFIC-India showed that the number of tiger deaths is much less than the WPSI figure. The NTCA record indicated that there had been 66 tiger deaths so far for 2013, even though the number of seizures stood at only five. However, a senior NTCA official claimed that several cases of tiger deaths this year were still under investigation. Ironically, the NTCA announced a message stating that all tiger deaths in India would be treated as poaching unless proven otherwise. According to prominent wildlife conservationist Valmik Thapar, the task of gathering figures on tiger mortality should always be deployed to NGOs and organizations who have the crucial expertise. He further added that figures given by such organizations like the WPSI are more reliable. WPSI program coordinator Tito Joseph stated that the organization's figures were based on accurate on-field investigation, and that it always determines seizures and body parts with experts and field officers before making any claim.

I believe that regardless of what the figures compiled by various organizations and NGOs say, illegal poaching remains rife in India as it does in other parts of the world. Despite numerous efforts to intensify protection measurements, poachers are always looking for ways to get an upper-hand in the continuous battle between them and conservation groups. This is why I feel that it is always essential to combat poaching by means of community involvement. That is, educating both rural and suburban communities about the dangers of poaching and what they can do in order to help put a stop to the practice. In addition to simply refusing to purchase animal body parts, people in both rural and suburban environments should play their parts in notifying the authorities about any would-be activity that could be related to poaching. Furthermore, authorities should never, under any circumstances, deny that they have a major problem concerning poaching in a certain area especially when conservation groups provide sufficient data indicating hardcore evidence of poaching activities.

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