HT Editorial The tragedy of the Goa tiger was avoidable. Learning from it – editorials
Wildlife officials at the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa, a 200-square-kilometer enclave in the Western Ghats on Wednesday, found the carcasses of an adult tiger and three cubs. According to them, all four were probably poisoned by two farmers, whose cattle were allegedly hunted by the cat family. Wildlife activists have claimed that deaths could also be a poaching case because the claws of one of the tigers were missing. The Center has set up a team to probe the deaths.
There are two reasons why deaths could have been prevented. One, Goa’s refusal to improve the sanctuary to a full-fledged tiger reserve (which could have provided him with greater protection), after local opposition and politics. And secondly, a recent sequence of events should have alerted officials to an imminent human-animal conflict. On December 22, a cow was killed; a day later, the family of cats was caught in a camera trap; and on December 30, a buffalo was killed. If officials had planned a strategy to avoid any local backlash, the tigers could probably have been saved.
India’s tiger population has been on the rise. The latest Tiger Census report, published in July 2019, showed 2,967 tigers, one-third compared to 2014 numbers. The murders in Goa are a reminder that while we celebrate the growing number, there are enough reasons to keep the celebrations discreet. Large cats, as well as other animals, face existential challenges due to the growing man-animal conflict, the lack of forest corridors through which they can move and development projects such as mining and roads.