Bhopal: Fifty-three cases of tiger poaching and 160 cases of killing of leopard are being tried in various courts in Madhya Pradesh, some for over four decades.
A case of tiger death registered on May 17, 1975 in Kanha National Park in Mandla district is still pending decision in the court. Another case of tiger death registered on September 25, 1979 in Balaghat district is also under the legal process.
Of these cases pending trial, 20 are related to poaching inside tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh.
Six poaching cases of big cats in Kanha National Park, five in Pench National Park, four each in Panna National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park and one in Satpura National Park are undergoing trials in courts, according to information received by RTI activist Ajay Dubey.
These cases were registered between 1975 and 2008.
Between 2002 and 2012, 337 tigers reportedly died due to poaching, infighting, accidents and old age.
The highest number of 58 tigers were found dead in 2009, followed by 56 in 2011, 36 in 2008 and 28 each in 2007 and 2002. Of the tiger deaths, 68 big cats were victims of poaching, according to the data received through RTI.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under Ministry of Environment and Forests for conservation of the big cats, has data of poaching of big cats from 1998 to 2003.
Fourteen tigers were poached in 1998, 38 in 1999 and 39 in 2000, as per the data on the website of NTCA, which is heading `Project Tiger` to ensure a viable population of the big cats in the country through wildlife management and site-specific eco-development measures.
Poaching is a matter of concern for forest officials and wildlife activists as population of tiger in one of the six reserves of Madhya Pradesh -- Panna Tiger Reserve -- had dwindled to zero in 2009.
There were about 20 tigers in the reserve in 2006, according to a state government report.
However, tigers were reintroduced in the reserve, which at present is home to about 23 big cats.
Six tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh -- Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Panna, Bori-Satpura, Sanjay Dubri and Pench -- have 257 big cats. The tiger population in the country was estimated to be 1,706 as per data collected in 2010.
Besides tigers poaching, 160 cases of illegal killing of leopards are also pending trials in various MP courts, some for over three decades.
The oldest case of poaching of leopard, registered on July 9, 1973 (over 40 years ago) in Shivpuri district of the state, is pending decision in the court. Another case of leopard killing registered on February 14, 1975 (about 39 years old) in Chhindwara district is pending in the court.
"It is a matter of concern for wildlife activists like us. The cases must be fast-tracked so that culprits are punished promptly," he said.
The number of leopards in Madhya Pradesh is not known as there is no mechanism for annual official count of the mammal in the country. "We want the government to come out with annual census of leopard like tigers," Dubey said.