India's first-ever comprehensive database on tiger mortality and poaching-related crime has begun collecting information on tiger deaths, poaching and seizures.
Dwindling populations as well as a suspected surge in wildlife crime led the wildlife trade monitoring network 'TRAFFIC' and India's National Tiger Conservation Authority to develop 'Tigernet'. This is the latest effort under India's 'Project Tiger', founded in 1973.
Tour operators promoting tiger watching trips expressed mixed feelings about the development. Julian Matthews, founder of Tour Operators for Tigers, does think the database is a step in the right direction. It's surprising this didn't happen a long time ago as data is necessary for intelligence and wildlife crime investigation. However, it will do very little for living tigers, whose forests are increasingly denuded, unprotected and neglected. Bureaucrats do not save tigers, he said.
Oliver James of Real Holidays believes the database is a half-measure in the fight to save tigers. While any initiative trying to protect the tiger population is welcome, I think resources could be better utilised in protecting habitats and eradicating poaching rather than counting dead bodies, he said.
India desperately needs a dedicated wildlife park service with powers similar to the nation's defence force, together with a visionary new ecotourism template, says Julian. Only then, he believes, can wild tigers be saved.