2022 has been a dismal year for Karnataka with key species like leopards, elephants and tigers trapped in conflicts with humans in peripheral regions of protected and territorial areas. With Karnataka having a population of 524 tigers, 15 tiger deaths have been recorded (as per Tigernet statistics) due to various reasons.
On the other hand, with the state having a leopard population of 1783, Karnataka saw 7 deaths due to road accidents. Unfortunately, the year has seen frequent captures, caging and relocation of leopards, elephants, and tigers from farmlands, estates, and plantations.
Many wildlife boundaries are rife with rising man-animal conflicts and both wildlife and people have lost their lives in the state. With encroachment of more than 2 lakh acres of forest lands in Karnataka, it is not surprising that wildlife is forced to come out for food, water, and space.
Many straying leopards are either being captured or caged to address the growing anger of the people in Mysuru, Bengaluru, Belagavi, Tumakuru and Ramanagara. With frequent sightings of leopards in villages, farms, and outskirts of Mysuru and Bengaluru, caging and capture operations has been going on especially in the last three months. Further, the death of two youngsters in T. Narsipura and attacks in Tumakuru has led to combing operations and their caging or capture.
The situation is so bad that farmers are scared to work in their fields while the leopards and their cubs are facing the brunt of people’s anger for no fault of theirs. The leopard-human conflict has turned so acute in the state that the Karnataka government came out with a compensation of Rs 15 lakh for human deaths in leopard attacks. The compensation is now on par with the amount paid to victims in elephant attacks.
Apart from this, in the last 9 months, Karnataka saw 5 shocking incidents of leopard deaths, road-rail killings and serious injuries to leopards. As per analysis of the data, more than 50 per cent of leopard deaths are due to road kills on national highways.
Month Area Causes
24 Dec Huvina Hadagali, Vijayanagar Road Kill
22 Nov Kyatsandra, Tumakuru Rail Kill
31 Oct B’luru-Mysuru highway, Ramnagara Road Kill
28 Oct Huliyur durga Road, Tumakuru Road Kill
20 June Alur village, Hassan Found dead
14 April B’luru-Mysuru highway, Ramnagara Road Kill
According to Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), India’s leopard mortality stood at a whopping 502 this year.
Out of this, there was 343 cases of deaths and a shocking 159 cases of poaching and seizures across the country. The statistics clearly reveals the dire status of the leopards and a big question mark on their survival with people baying for their killings and capture.
KARNATAKA TIGER DEATHS
Out of 14 tiger deaths in Karnataka, two tigers died outside the tiger reserve. According to Tigernet, three were females, 8 adult males and rest three tiger cubs. Year 2022 saw death of 5 (4 males, 1 female) tigers in Nagarhole and 5 tigers in Bandipur. One tiger died each in Haliyal and Virajpet divisions and in Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary.
Only one case of natural death was reported on January 13 – the death of a male tiger in Gundre range of Bandipur National Park.
Month Area Cause
18 Dec Haliyal Beheaded body found
27 Nov Nagarhole 3 Cubs found dead
12 Nov Nagarhole Tiger snared, dead
30 July Nagarhole tiger carcass found
25 July Brahmagiri Male found dead
28 June Virajpet terr. Tiger found dead
18 June Bandipur Cub found dead
4 June Nagarhole Sub-adult dead
16 May Nagarhole Adult male found dead
9 April Bandipur Adult male dead
9 Mar Bandipur Female adult dead
29 Jan Bandipur Adult male dead
25 Jan Nagarhole Male cub found dead
25 Jan Nagarhole Female cub found dead
13 Jan Bandipur Male adult-natural death
As per Tigernet (official database of NTCA), 14 tigers died this year for different reasons while one case of seizure was reported in the state. On February 14, Madikeri division forest cell arrested four persons from Tattahalli tribal settlement near Siddapura for the possession of tiger skin, tiger claws, tiger teeth and tiger whiskers.
During the investigations, they found the weapons used for hunting which was hidden in the house of a suspect. Further, the camera traps installed for tiger census were found lying inside the house of the accused Manoj. However, compared to the tigers, the protection of the spotted big cats in India needs to be enhanced and strengthened if we have to save them in the long run