Friday, 19 December 2014

NEWSLINK: More Tigers Are Dying in India—but the Future’s Looking Brighter

Poaching is down, and a rise in natural deaths may indicate that the big cats are thriving.

December 04, 2014 By John R. Platt

John R. Platt covers the environment, technology, philanthropy, and more forScientific American, Conservation, Lion, and other publications.

The body of a Bengal tiger was found on Sunday in India’s Pench National Park, the site that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s classic collection The Jungle Book. Although wildlife officials initially said they did not suspect that poachers killed the tiger—which had probably been dead for four days before it was discovered—they later conceded they were not ruling out the possibility.

What we know, however, is that the animal was the 54th tiger found dead in India this year. It followed closely on the heels of another dead tiger that was discovered in the Corbett Tiger Reserve on Nov. 28. The cause of that death has also not been determined.

It has been a deadly four years for tigers in India. On Nov. 26, environment minister Prakash Javadekar announced that 274 tigers have been found dead in the country since the beginning of 2011. With the latest two fatalities, the number is now 276. This represents a 53 percent spike in tiger deaths from 2006 to 2010, nearly three times the number of tigers reported dead between 2002 and 2006.

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