Fighting International Poaching Syndicates to Save Indian Tigers
The recent reports indicating a healthy rise in the Indian tiger population, up to nearly 2,500, should spark the celebration of a successful mission of conservation. However, despite a government-run conservation plan that has pulled back the numbers from an estimated 40,000 at the turn of the last century, international poaching syndicates have mobilized their criminal networks in the country to hunt the endangered animal.
Estimated Tiger Deaths from Poaching and Seizure of Body Parts
According to Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI)’s recent statistics, estimated tiger deaths from “poaching and seizure of body parts”, recorded from January 1 to August 3, 2016, stands at 31, a rise from 26 in 2015 and 23 in 2014. This unlawful trade of dead tigers is fuelled by a thriving market of the animal body parts for traditional use in medicines as well as loss of natural habitat and traditional prey. These hunters don’t need news reports to understand that numbers have gone up as they are well aware of changes in tiger density and location much before us.
Madhya Pradesh Leads the Poaching Race
Madhya Pradesh takes the spotlight in the hunting of tigers with a reported 20 “tiger mortalities” this year, of which six were poached, five were “found dead” and nine died of “infighting”. Uttarakhand follows close with six tiger skins and 150 kg tiger bones seized this year. Karnataka stands third with one tiger skull and bones and two claws seized in 2016.
International Network of Poachers Operating from China, Nepal and Myanmar
International poachers operating from China, Nepal & Myanmar are exploiting helpless poor, illiterate and nomadic tribes of India such as Bawaria, Behlia and Pardhi. These gangs, located in destination countries of South-east Asia, follow all developments in India closely for new orders and information on easy catch from the unguarded venturing tigers that have increasingly moved out of their protected sanctuaries in search of new habitats, mates etc.
NGOs Ask Countries to End Breeding of Big Cats for Commercial Purposes
More than 40 NGOs including those from India have asked countries to end breeding of the big cats for commercial purposes and phase out tiger farms. The organisations commended Thailand government that seized 137 live tigers, thousands of tiger skin amulets, 70 preserved cubs and other tiger parts from the Tiger Temple in June this year and urged them to end all tiger farming within their borders and play a leadership role in the phase-out of tiger farms in the region.
The last remaining wild tigers are each threatened by this unlawful trade of their body parts from skins and bones to teeth and claws traded by criminals for huge profits. The international community must provide support to end tiger farming and other trades involving products acquired from wild and captive tigers in order to save the wild tiger population.