Tigers kill more than 100 people in India in three years

But number of fatal attacks fell in 2021

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More than 100 people in India have been killed in tiger attacks in the past three years.

Junior environment minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey told the Indian Parliament on Monday that 108 died between 2019 and last year.

Tigers are a protected species in India, which has nearly two-thirds of the global population.

India's last official count in 2018 found 2,967 tigers, up from 1,411 in 2006 when the government began aggressive conservation efforts.

But the cats are still considered an endangered species because of the threat of poaching and shrinking habitats that cause human-animal conflicts.

“The human-tiger interface has always been there and needs to be addressed in an ongoing manner because there are human-dominated landscapes around the tiger areas,” Dr Rajesh Gopal, secretary general of the Global Tiger Forum, told The National.

“For encounters, there are surveillance systems, and capacity building of frontline workers but if the community is not geared up or not supported or something is lacking, it becomes a vicious circle.”

Mr Choubey said Maharashtra recorded the most deaths, with 56.

The western state has nearly 400 tigers and five tiger reserves.

In Uttar Pradesh, 17 people were killed in tiger attacks: eight in 2019, four in 2020 and five last year, the minister said.

But Mr Choubey said a total of 14 people were killed by tigers last year, a decrease from 50 in 2019.

He said the government was taking steps to reduce conflict by dispersing tigers and relocating them.

A tiger walks past a vehicle carrying tourists at Ranthambore National Park, India.

Expansion of human settlements into tiger habitats and their killing for illegal trade poses a constant threat to their survival.

At least 126 tigers died last year, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the highest in many years.

Some of the deaths were blamed on poachers and others were attributed to accidents and natural causes.

Nearly 60 tiger deaths of the 303 between 2018 and 2020 were caused by poaching, the authority said.

Tigers are poached for their fur, teeth and bones which are smuggled to China for traditional medicines.

India declared the tiger its national animal in 1971 and made harming them or trading body parts a criminal offence.

The government also introduced aggressive initiatives for their conservation, including planning new tiger reserves and relocating human settlements from the animals' habitats.

But the fatal tiger-human conflict continues.

A teenage boy was mauled to death in Sidhi, Madhya Pradesh, on Monday in a suspected tiger attack. On the same day, authorities in northern Uttarakhand sent hunters to kill a tiger blamed for killing at least six people in the past three months near Nainital.

Experts say the fatal conflict between man and the wild cats can be curbed by restricting the presence of humans near or within tiger reserves and educating local communities.

Updated: April 05, 2022, 3:39 PM