Twenty-six tigers have died across the country between January 2010 and January 2021 in road and rail accidents. Of them, 12 tigers have lost their lives in road accidents and 14 in rail accidents. The information recently came to light after wildlife conservationist Giridhar Kulkarni filed a Right to Information (RTI) query.
Maharashtra recorded 10 deaths, Uttarakhand (5), Uttar Pradesh (2), Andhra Pradesh (1), Bihar (1), and Madhya Pradesh (6) during the period. Karnataka recorded the death of one tiger owing to a road accident on July 27, 2019 inside the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Head of Forest Force BK Singh said that widening of roads and doubling railway tracks in corridors used by animals like tiger, leopard and black buck, which are listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, must be avoided.
“The death of 26 tigers in 10 years – 12 in road accidents and 14 in train accidents – is a cause of worry. The forest departments of Assam, West Bengal and Odisha have brought in some checks over a period of time. Speed limits for trains have been fixed in accident-prone tracks. Forest personnel and the railways have worked in coordination and exchanged information with regards to the movement of elephant herds. If the speed limit is further brought down, then the accidents can be avoided. Why can’t it happen in the case of tigers and leopards? Accident-prone tracks require strong monitoring,” he said.
In May and June 2021, one tigress and a tiger died in road and rail accidents. In November last year, a tiger was found dead on the railway tracks near Nallamala forests close to Nandyal town in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district.
Notably, earlier this year, Union minister Nitin Gadkari had claimed in the Lok Sabha that there has been “no incident of killing of wild animals in road accidents on national highways during the last three years in the country.”