As many as 429 tigers have been poached and killed since 2008 across the country, with the maximum of 71 in Madhya Pradesh during the period, revealed data obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Year-wise, the maximum killings took place in 2011 when 80 tigers were poached, while the minimum of 17 occurred in 2015, according to the data from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The WCCB is a statutory body formed to combat organised wildlife crime in the country. In 2018, 22 tigers were killed, down from 25 in 2017 and 48 in 2016, it stated in a written response.
Noida-based lawyer Ranjan Tomar had sought state-wise data from the bureau on the number of tigers killed by poachers since 2008.
The maximum killings of 71tigershave been reported from MP, followed by 46 each in Maharashtra and Karnataka, 42 each in Assam and Chhattisgarh and 35 in Uttarakhand during the period, according to the data.
Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh reported 25 such killings each, 19 in Kerala, followed by 12 in West Bengal, 11 each in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, it stated. Six tiger killings by poachers were reported in Delhi -- two each in 2011 and 2012, one each in 2013 and 2014, and one in 2008, it added.
Notably, there are 14 states and Union Territories -- Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Goa, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Puducherry, Punjab, Sikkim and Tripura -- from where no such killings have been reported since 2008, according to the data.
"The number of tiger killings has come down in recent years, as shown in the data, which is good news for wildlife conservationists and enthusiasts. However, the concern still looms large over such killings and poaching continuing," Tomar said.
"It is essential to save wildlife if we want to protect the environment. Animals like elephants and tigers are critical to human survival because of their position in the natural food chain and losing them could endanger our existence," the 30-year-old social activist told PTI.
Tomar had also sought details of the tiger census of 2008 and 2018 but the bureau said no such data was maintained by it. There was also no information with the department on the amount of tiger skin or body parts recovered from poachers during the period.