India to track every tiger death on-line

/ Jeremy Hance

Due to increased problems with poaching, the conservation organization TRAFFIC has joined with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to begin tracking every tiger mortality in India with a new website called Tigernet.

Due to increased problems with poaching, the conservation organization TRAFFIC has joined with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to begin tracking every tiger mortality in India with a new website called Tigernet.

The website will also track tiger-related crimes, allowing wildlife wardens and field directors of Project Tiger Reserves to access key data on tiger death and crime in an instant, including seizures of tiger products.

Since the Bengal tiger (panthera tigris tigris) is a flagship species in India, the organizations say they hope the website will aid biodiversity overall in India by providing up-to-date information on wildlife criminals for whom tigers is just one of the more lucrative targets. For instance, the site is currently reporting the poaching of a leopard in Jammu and Kashmir.

Bengal tiger in Karnataka, India. Photo by: Paul Mannix.

The website also hopes to involve the public in reporting wildlife crimes by providing a place where citizens can send in their own reports.

According to a press release by TRAFFIC, “[the] collection of streamlined information is the first step toward addressing the root cause of a misdeed and this website has to be seen in this context. It is hoped that it will engender a spirit of honesty and cooperation among all major stakeholders in Tiger conservation in the country for remedial action to save the majestic predator of the Indian jungles along with all the other denizens that cohabit with this species.”

India has been seen as one of the very few bright spots in tiger conservation. However, in 2008 the nation downgraded its likely number of tigers from 3,508 to 1,411. Poaching continues to be a major problem for tigers not just in India but in every remaining habitat. The poaching is fueled by the black market in tiger parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicines. While China has currently banned any selling of tiger parts, the ban has not stopped the underground trade. In a 2008 poll of Chinese residents in seven major cities, 43 percent admitted that they had consumed products that they thought contained tiger parts.

Three subspecies of tiger already vanished in the 20th Century: the Javan, the Balinese, and the Caspian tiger due to habitat loss and poaching. Six subspecies remain; two of which are considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List: the South China Tiger (panthera tigris amoyensis) and the Sumatran Tiger (panthera tigris sumatrae).

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