India’s Tiger Population: Reading Between the Lines – India Real Time – WSJ

India this week cheered figures that showed it now has the largest tiger population in the world.

A 30.5% jump in the big cat headcount since the last census in 2011 means there are now 2,226 tigers in India – that’s 70% of all the tigers in the world.

“That is a huge success story,” Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar said. “We must be proud of our legacy and we must be proud of our efforts.”

But what the minister didn’t say was that the rate of tiger poaching has been increasing over the same time, according to figures from the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

The government says that between 2011 and 2014, there were 274 tiger deaths. Most of them –192 — lost to poaching or unexplained causes.   Authorities said poaching caused 83 of the total number of tiger deaths and acknowledged that they have not identified causes for 109 other deaths.

The WPSI says that those figures are an underestimate. According to data it has compiled, 110 tigers were killed by poachers between 2011 and 2014. Even that may be understating the actual number, says Tito Joseph, program manager at WPSI. “Because of demand for tiger products from other countries, we can only assume that some cases go undetected,” Mr. Joseph said. Those deaths that are unexplained could be as a result of poaching, he added.

via India’s Tiger Population: Reading Between the Lines – India Real Time – WSJ.

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