30 tigers died in Maharashtra in 22 months

It’s official. Maharashtra lost 30 tigers in the 22 months between January 2017 and October 2018, said finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who also holds the forest portfolio, in the House on Monday.

Though the number is alarming, he said a majority of the deaths registered in Nagpur, Chandrapur, Wardha and Gadchiroli were attributed to natural causes. He, however, admitted that the dead body of a tiger cub was found in a trap in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in April 2019.

Replying to Dhananjay Munde, the Opposition leader in the legislative council, the minister said out of the 30 tigers that died, 20 succumbed to natural causes, five were electrocuted, one died in a road accident and the causes of death of four others were unknown.

Mungantiwar didn’t comment on the opposition allegation about hunting in Tadoba, but conceded that an inquiry has been ordered into the death of a cub. “Four persons have been arrested so far in this case and the state has started the process of prosecuting them. During inquiry, an employee was suspended and a showcause notice was issued to a forest guard,” he said.

The minister added that the government is taking measures to curb untimely deaths of wild animals. According to the data provided by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, Maharashtra recorded 20 tiger deaths in 2018, the second highest number in the country.

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