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How tigers in Karnataka are falling prey to wild boar traps

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Bengaluru, Oct 5: The death of a huge male tiger on the fringes of Karnataka's Nagarahole, a conservation success story, has thrown up tough questions for conservators. Karnataka has seen 11 tiger deaths in the last nine months. Of these, snaring has claimed four tigers in the last two years.

Representational Image

The death is attributed to various reasons - poisoning, snaring, electrocution or territorial wars. Infighting is another reason with Bandipur-Nagarhole protected areas having the highest density of tigers and facing the problem of space for these carnivores (males) which need a territory of 60-100 sqkm.

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The tiger was caught in a snare that had been installed for wild boars. A group of three poachers later skinned the tiger and also removed its nails and bones. One poacher was arrested while the other two are still absconding.

The forest officials, who are aware of the two other poachers, are hopeful of arresting them soon. This once again shows the painful reality of sanres being abound in coffee estates, abetting our forests.

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Snaring- a continuous threat

A total of 21 tigers have died since January 2016 around Nagarahole and Bandipur, many of them in territorial fights. This rise in snares was noticed after the Karnataka government's order that legally allowed culling of wild boars that were entering farms and damaging crops.

According to the reports, Karnataka has lost two tigers, three leopards and two sloth bears among its big mammals because of the snares. This includes a one and a half year old tiger cub that injured its forelimbs after being caught in a snare in Ponnampet forest of Kodagu district in 2016. Another tigress was found dead at Srimangala near Ponnampet when she too found herself accidentally stepping into the snares left to catch wild boar.

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The tiger, leopard and sloth bear are all listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the highest level of protection given to wild animals in the country. This prohibits their killing and deems it as a punishable offence. The wild boar is listed in Schedule III of the Wildlife Act, which still makes it illegal to hunt though the punishment is less severe.

Karnataka- The state with the most big cats

Karnataka has been a conservation success story with respect to tigers. An estimated 406 tigers live in the state with 221 recorded in Nagarhole and the adjoining Bandipur forests. Tiger density here is higher than anywhere else. However, the upswing in the population also comes with the higher mortality risks. With the big cat's population in the core areas reaching saturation point, officials and activists think there is bound to be higher mortality and man-tiger conflict.

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Forests at risk

Acute shortage of food and water in blazing summers is a cause of worry for environmentalists. Tigers are venturing out of their territory looking for water and food and sometimes this is leading to man-animal conflicts as well as animal-animal conflict.

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