For those who believe saving the tiger should be a national priority, perhaps the most frightening reality is that no matter what anyone says, or even the involvement of the Prime Minister, our national animal continues to be hunted.
So far 13 tigers have been killed this year, and last year there were 66 tiger deaths. Of these many were killed as they strayed outside tiger reserves.
Concerned over the dwindling number of tigers, the Prime Minister has now decided to intervene and take up the issue with the Chief Ministers of various states.
Some of the tiger deaths could have been prevented if states had declared areas around tiger reserves as buffer zones, or areas that restrict commercial activity. Four years ago, the Centre had made buffer zones mandatory but only a few states like Assam, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Kerala have done that.
What’s more worrying is that states like Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where tiger deaths are very high, no buffer zone has been notified.
“The delay in non notification of buffer zones is not accidental, but deliberate to allow other commercial projects to come through,” said Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests.
Most states are reluctant to notify buffer zones in their territories but the Prime Minister will appeal to the Chief Ministers to do so before time runs out. The Centre has warned it could even review existing mining and other commercial projects located in and near buffer zones that pose a threat to tigers.