Indian villages under curfew after deadly tiger attacks

Residents in two districts of Uttarakhand are banned from going out between 7pm and 6am

By AFP

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Photo for illustrative purpose only
Photo for illustrative purpose only

Published: Mon 17 Apr 2023, 2:57 PM

Last updated: Mon 17 Apr 2023, 2:58 PM

Hundreds of villagers in northern India were under orders not to leave their homes after dark on Monday after two people were killed in tiger attacks, authorities said.

Last week India said its wild tiger population had risen above 3,000 but the growing numbers combined with habitat loss and urban expansion are leading to more attacks.

The curfew issued on Sunday banned people in two districts of the hilly state of Uttarakhand from going out between 7pm and 6am.

Schools have also been closed for two days, starting Monday.

Officials said the first death was reported on Thursday and the second one on Sunday but it was unclear whether the two killings involved the same tiger.

"We received an alert about a tiger in the territory on April 10. We are continuously monitoring the area," forest officer Swapnil Anirudh told AFP.

"Our armed staff are also on the scene... This area has a low number of wild prey, so humans and cattle are easy targets," Anirudh said.

At least 108 people were killed in tiger attacks in India between 2019 and mid-2021, the government said last year.

Conservationists blame the rapid expansion of human settlements around forests and key wildlife corridors for an increase in man-animal conflict.

Last year, police shot dead a tiger dubbed the "man-eater of Champaran" that had killed at least nine people in eastern India.

The South Asian country is home to 75 percent of the global tiger population. According to the latest census released last week, there are an estimated 3,167 of the big cats in India.

Their numbers have rebounded in the last decade but the rate of increase slowed to under seven percent between 2018 and 2022, down from over 30 percent in the previous four years.

The tiger has lost more than 93 percent of its historical range globally over the past 100 years and now only survives in scattered populations in 13 countries, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

In 1900, more than 100,000 tigers were estimated to roam the planet. But that fell to a record low of 3,200 in 2010.

That year, India and 12 other countries with tiger populations signed an agreement aiming to double their numbers by 2022.

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