About 450 tigers died in past 12 years

According to an RTI reply from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, 447 wild cats were found dead between 1999 and March 2011, of which 197 were poached.

Besides, 250 wild cats died of natural causes including old age, infighting, starvation, road and rail accidents, electrocution and weakness. The Ministry also noted that poaching was the major cause behind disappearance of tigers from its reserves.

"The cases of local extinction of tigers were reported in Sariska, Rajasthan (2005) and Panna, Madhya Pradesh (2008). As reported, poachings of tigers was the major cause of their extinction," National Tiger Conservation Authority under the MoEF said in the reply to an RTI query filed by Ashwini Shrivastava.

72 tigers were poached in 2001 and 2002 followed by 48 in 1999 and in 2010, it said. Two tigers were found killed between January and March 17 this year, the reply said. Whereas 20 wild cats were killed in 2003, 17 in 2009, 10 in 2007, nine each were killed in 2000 and 2008, and five fell prey to hunters in 2006, it said.

The Environment Ministry, however, did not give details of action taken reports in cases of poaching, saying concerned state governments were the custodian of information.

"Action against the cases related to poaching is taken by state governments under the provision of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and other relevant Acts," the ministry replied.

"You are requested to contact respective state governments for detailed information on action taken report against each case of poaching," it said. Altogether, 66 wild cats died in 2009, 59 in 2002, 52 in 2010, 44 in 2001, 33 in 1999, 31 in 2008 and 30 in 2007, the reply said. According to the ministry, 44 were killed in 2004 and 2006, 10 in 2000 and 34 each in 2005 and 2011 (up to March).

The MoEF said various legal, administrative and financial steps were being taken to check poaching and support conservation of wild animals. "Enhancement of punishment in cases of offence relating to a tiger reserve or its core area," the reply said.

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