[Answered] Analyze the reasons behind the recent spike in tiger deaths in the Nilgiris district. How do human-animal conflicts and habitat degradation contribute to this issue?

Introduction: Give context of the question.

Body: What are reasons behind tiger deaths and suggestion to deal with issue.

Conclusion: Way forward

The recent death of tigers in Nilgiris has raised concerns among the state forest department and conservationists about the welfare of these animals.

Reasons behind the recent spike in tiger deaths in the Nilgiris district:

  • High density of tigers:  The high density of tigers in the Mudumalai-Bandipur-Nagarhole complex of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve is pushing populations into the surrounding habitats in the Mukurthi National Park, Nilgiris and Gudalur forest divisions. This leads to increased competition between animals and more fighting, resulting in more deaths.
  • Poaching: Tigers are frequently targeted by poachers for their body parts because they are in high demand on the black market for wildlife. Some of the recent deaths may be traced to unlawful hunting, and poaching still poses a serious threat to tiger populations.
  • Man-animal conflict: The encroachment of human activities into tiger habitats often results in conflicts. These conflicts emerge when tigers enter human settlements in search of prey or when they are viewed as threats to livestock and human well-being. In such situations, villagers may react by resorting to retaliatory killings or capturing and relocating tigers, thereby contributing to an increase in tiger mortality.
  • Lack of prey base: Habitat degradation can lead to a decline in prey species, such as deer and wild boar, which are essential for tigers’ survival. Tigers may turn to domestic livestock as alternative prey, escalating conflicts with humans.

What conservation strategies are required to address the issue?

  • Anti-Poaching Efforts: Strengthening anti-poaching measures and law enforcement is essential to combat illegal wildlife trade. Eg of such camps in forest ranges surrounding the Mukurthi National Park
  • Monitoring of areas: There is a need to begin annual monitoring of tiger populations in the Nilgiris Forest Division, with the population size, range of each animal and other parameters to be recorded for better management.
  • Habitat Protection: Protecting and restoring tiger habitats is crucial for reducing human-wildlife conflicts and providing tigers with sufficient prey.
  • Community Engagement: Involving local communities in conservation efforts, providing education on coexistence, and offering compensation for livestock losses can help reduce conflicts.

Conclusion:

Addressing the recent spike in tiger deaths in the Nilgiris district requires a multi-pronged approach that considers both the ecological and social aspects of tiger conservation while addressing the root causes of habitat degradation and conflicts between humans and tigers.

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