Tigers and leopards are being killed in India. Ban poaching and killing of these big cats.
Despite efforts to protect the species, the demand for tiger bones, teeth and hide means poaching still continues. This, together with the decimation of their habitats and loss of natural prey due to hunting, has put tigers on the endangered list.
The government admitted in Parliament that at least 11 tigers have died across the country in the last two months since March 2010 due to various reasons including poaching and poisoning.
"Six tiger deaths were reported from outside the tiger reserves in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Arunanchal Pradesh, Bandipur in Karnataka state, Assam and Karnataka/ Tamil Nadu state border in January and February this year," the minister said quoting data made available by the various state governments.
in a case of revenge by villagers, located on the outskirts of the famous Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in the north-west state of Rajasthan, when they killed two 17-month-cubs, upset over the killing of their livestock by tigers which strayed out of the reserve.
Traders claim big cat skins are sourced from India where there is the largest wild population but even that is thought to be just around 1,400.
The tigers or their parts are trafficked into Nepal via porters who carry the bones during an arduous trek across the mountain passes.
They are then taken into China, defying the ban on the tiger bone trade which came into force in 1993.
Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra recorded the highest number of leopard deaths, stated the NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).
There have been reports of 240 leopard deaths so far.
Across the country, 17 leopards were killed in man-animal conflict, 19 died in road accidents, eight were shot dead by the forest department, six died in rescue operations, two were killed by other big cats, while 58 more were found dead, says WPSI.
The rest of the deaths are feared to have been caused by poaching.
Uttarakhand has seen a spurt in leopard deaths. Twenty-nine leopards were poached, four killed in man-animal conflict, including three that were shot dead by the forest department.
We are compiling a report as part of the tiger census this year which will reveal the latest figure of leopards, Paramjit Singh, chief conservator of forests of Uttarakhand, told IANS.
There is no record of the total number of this agile and stealthy predator in India. They are protected by Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, the highest protection provided to wild animals.
Fifteen leopards were poached in Maharashtra, 13 in Uttar Pradesh and 12 in Karnataka. Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam and Himachal Pradesh have also seen leopard deaths in man-animal conflicts.
The buffer areas of wildlife sanctuaries have been the main poaching grounds. Some of these places have seen intense man-animal conflict.
Each year, a large number of these endangered animals face unnatural deaths.
In 2009, some 160 cases of poaching and body parts seizures were recorded.
In 2008, the figure was 157, according to the NGO.
Some members of Haryanas Bawaria tribe are alleged to be involved in organised poaching and operate across a vast area in and around wildlife sanctuaries. They are expert hunters.
These people (Bawaria poachers) know only how to hunt. They do not have anything else to do. So they kill them for money. It is business, said Mr. Singh.
Poachers from other states also come in two or three-member groups, he said.
Tito said there are different types of poachers: One type is organised like the Bawarias. Another type attacks if under threat from a leopard attack. He will poison the animal and skin it. When he gets a chance he will sell it. The third type looks to hunt other animals but will kill a leopard if there is an opportunity".
If we can save the tiger and leopard, you are not only saving the species but the forests they live in and the ecosystems that many other species rely on!"
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