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Radio collars - The cause of tiger deaths?
A report has found that around 80 per cent of the tigers killed in Panna Reserve were radio collared, which made it easier for poachers to locate them using frequency-capturing devices.
A WILDLIFE intelligence report has blamed tiger deaths in Panna Tiger Reserve on their “radio collaring”, raising questions over projects to conserve the animal throughout the country. The report, submitted to Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh, has said that the radio-collaring of tigers in Madhya Pradesh's Panna Tiger Reserve, has "compromised the overall security of the reserve".

“The report has found that around 80 per cent of the tigers killed in Panna, met their deadly fate at the hands of poachers, after they were radio collared,” said top sources in the ministry. Terming its findings as "interesting", the report said that the “radio collar technique has been identified in most number of cases” of tiger deaths that the team had probed. The report, submitted to the ministry with annexures running into pages, dealt with the 'security' reasons behind the sudden disappearance of tigers from the Panna Reserve.

The document which talks of the "technical and security issues" around the Panna Reserve, has stated that the radio collar had restricted the movement of the animal as it hunted its prey and that it also restricted its free movement in the wild. “The radio collar has also resulted in infections on the neck of the tiger, which becomes fatal for the animal,” the sources said.

The report has put a question mark on the procedure of radio collar techniques in the reserve. “The investigating team found out that no Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for radio-collaring were taken into consideration and hence, the tiger struggled his way to death,” sources said. It has been suggested that poachers may have also brought radio frequency-capturing devices to first locate the tiger and subsequently poach it, they added. The radio-collar technique has been used across the country to understand animal behaviour and keep a check on the population and receive reports on incidents of poaching on rare and highly-endangered animals such as the tiger.

The radio-collaring of tigers in Panna started in 1998, and the wild cats are first shot with tranquilisers to tag the collars. There were about 27 tigers in the reserve till 2007, but a recent survey by the Wildlife Institute of India in May this year, has revealed that the reserve had no tigers left.

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