Tiger reserves to upload data on deaths, seizures

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    The most contentious issue between the Centre and the state on tiger conservation the accurate reporting of tiger deaths and details of tiger poaching is going to become live public information.

    Tiger reserve directors and chief wildlife wardens will now have to key in crucial, instantaneous information on tiger deaths, seizure or recovery of poached tiger parts, and post-mortem results on a National software system. The goal is to lift the veil of secrecy on tiger deaths, initiate investigations and take quick action at the central level.

    The national website, tigernet.nic.in, to be launched on Wednesday, will also be the first consolidated database on wildlife crime related to tiger and other protected species within the tiger reserve.

    Tiger deaths and honesty in reporting them to the Centre by state tiger reserves has been a sticky issue. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has in the past found carcasses of tigers, either found poached or dead due to natural circumstances, disposed of hastily without postmortems or investigations of poaching links. Consider this: NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India reported 84 tiger deaths, by both natural and poaching causes, in 2009-10. States however have reported deaths of 59 tigers up to November 2009. On Tuesday, a tigress was found dead in Corbett, the third in a series of deaths.

    "We were at a situation when field reports, official information, and reports by NGOs were at odds with each other. Whether a tiger has indeed died or if it has died due to poisoning or poaching needs to be known to us. There was a great level of secrecy. This system will institutionalize reporting on a national level," said a senior NTCA official.

    The software has been developed with NGO TRAFFIC India. "The software will also send automatic reminders to official staff to upload details like post-mortem reports after they have reported tiger deaths. The other details will be things like location of tiger carcass, visible marks of injury, etc," he said. "The idea is also to do away with the system of sending letters and faxes on tiger deaths which is archaic. We also will be able to spot a problem on a landscape level, and not just on a tiger reserve level."

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