Bhopal, Nov 30: Madhya Pradesh has lost 290 tigers over the last 19 years but the central Indian state still has more than 675 tigers, including 125 cubs, in the designated reserves and in the wild, a top Forest department official said on Monday.

Claiming that the population of tigers has actually "gone up", he said Madhya Pradesh will continue to remain the "tiger state of India".

The official said only five per cent of the deaths of big cats had occurred due to poaching or in man-animal conflicts. Most of the deaths of the tigers occurred either in territorial fights or due to natural causes, he added.

"Madhya Pradesh has lost 290 tigers so far since 2002," Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Alok Kumar told PTI.

However, there are 550 big cats in tiger reserves in Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Satpura, Panna and Sanjay Gandhi reserve and in the wild, he said, adding that there are 125 cubs in the parks.

Kumar said about 10 to 20 more tiger cubs might be roaming in the wild.

"They can't be captured as they might be deep inside the jungles. When they turn young and venture out, we would be able to see them," he added.

Kumar said movements of tigers were recorded through camera traps, patrolling and other means.

Asked about the deaths of 290 tigers since 2002, Kumar said, "As the number of tigers has risen, they are fighting for territorial control. We are losing 25 to 30 striped animals every year. Of them (the deceased tiger), 95 per cent were weak and old. While the remaining five per cent of (290) tigers were killed by poachers or in man-animal conflicts".

Queried on whether territories of the majestic beasts have shrunk due to encroachments, he said, "We do have an adequate area for tigers".

Kumar said there was no talk on increasing the area for the striped animals.

"The habitat of tigers needed to be protected, and for this people need to be made aware as well," he added.

Kumar said the typical lifespan of a tiger living in a reserve is 12 to 13 years.

Responding to a query, he said Madhya Pradesh will continue to remain the tiger state of India.

"The tiger state tag pulls tourists to Madhya Pradesh.

Our tourism is largely big cat-centric," said MP Wildlife Board (MPWB) member Abhilash Khandekar.

He said the state government should take utmost care to conserve its "tiger state" status so that it does not lose out on tourists and thus revenue.

"We don't have many big industries in MP. So each tiger counts for us," he said.

He said that economy of Panna region had been adversely affected in 2005 when the population of big cats dwindled in the Panna Tiger Reserve in 2005.

Earlier, MP had lost the 'tiger state' tag to Karnataka in the all India tiger estimation exercise for 2010, primarily due to alleged poaching in the Panna Tiger Reserve.

That time, MP had 257 tigers compared to 300 in Karnataka.

In the 2014 tiger census, MP slipped to no.3 position in the country with a population of 308 striped animals, after Uttarakhand (340) and Karnataka (408).

The central Indian state regained the top slot in the 2018 Census with a population of 526 tigers, two more than Karnataka.

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New Delhi: India's 100 top billionaires have seen their fortunes increase by Rs 12,97,822 crore since March last year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country and this amount is enough to give 13.8 crore poorest Indians a cheque for Rs 94,045 each.

The latest India supplement of the Oxfam report 'The Inequality Virus' said it would take an unskilled worker 10,000 years to make what businessman Mukesh Ambani made in an hour during the pandemic and three years to make what he made in a second.

The report has been released on the opening day of the World Economic Forum's 'Davos Dialogues'.

Calling the coronavirus pandemic the world's worst public health crisis in a hundred years, the report said it triggered an economic crisis comparable in scale only with the Great Depression of the 1930s.

"India's 100 billionaires have seen their fortunes increase by Rs 12,97,822 crores since March last year which is enough to give every one of the 138 million poorest Indians a cheque for Rs 94,045 each," the report said.

The new global survey of 295 economists from 79 countries, commissioned by Oxfam, reveals that 87 per cent of respondents, including Jeffrey Sachs, Jayati Ghosh and Gabriel Zucman, expect an "increase" or a "major increase" in income inequality in their country as a result of the pandemic.

"India has the world's fourth lowest health budget in terms of its share of government expenditure," it said. "If India's top 11 billionaires are taxed at just 1 per cent on the increase in their wealth during the pandemic, it will be enough to increase the allocation of Jan Aushadi Scheme by 140 times, which provides affordable medicines to the poor and marginalized."

India introduced one of the earliest and most stringent lockdowns in the face of the pandemic and its enforcement brought the economy to a standstill, triggering unemployment, hunger, distress migration and untold hardship in its wake, the report said.

"The rich were able to escape the pandemic's worst impact; and while the white-collar workers isolated themselves and worked from home, a majority of the not-so-fortunate Indians lost their livelihood," it said.

The report noted that billionaires like Gautam Adani, Shiv Nadar, Cyrus Poonawalla, Uday Kotak, Azim Premji, Sunil Mittal, Radhakrishan Damani, Kumar Manglam Birla and Laxmi Mittal working in sectors like coal, oil, telecom, medicines, pharmaceutical, education and retail increased their wealth exponentially since March 2020 when India announced world's biggest COVID-19 lockdown and economy came to standstill.

On the other hand, data has shown that 170,000 people lost their jobs every hour in the month of April 2020, the report said. Findings of the report showed that rich got richer during the pandemic.

"Data shows what Ambani earned during the pandemic would keep the 40 crore informal workers that are at risk of falling into poverty due to COVID-19 above the poverty line for at least 5 months," the report said.

The wealth of Indian billionaires increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown and by 90 per cent since 2009 to USD 422.9 billion, ranking India sixth in the world after the US, China, Germany, Russia and France, it said.

In fact, the report said the increase in wealth of the top 11 billionaires of India during the pandemic could sustain the rural job scheme MGNREGA for 10 years or the Health Ministry for 10 years.

Noting that the informal sector had been the worst hit, the report said out of a total 12.2 crore people who lost their jobs, 75 per cent, which accounts for 9.2 crore jobs, were lost in the informal sector.

"The mass exodus on foot triggered by the sudden lockdown and the inhuman beating, disinfection and quarantine conditions the informal workers were subjected to turned a health emergency into a humanitarian crisis," it said.

"Over 300 informal workers died due to the lockdown, with reasons ranging from starvation, suicides, exhaustion, road and rail accidents, police brutality and denial of timely medical care. The National Human Rights Commission recorded over 2,582 cases of human rights violation as early as in the month of April 2020," the report added.

It noted that the long disruption of schooling risked doubling the rate of out of school, especially among the poor.

"Only 4 per cent of rural households had a computer and less than 15 per cent rural households had an internet connection," it said.

On health inequalities, the report said only 6 per cent of the poorest 20 per cent has access to non-shared sources of improved sanitation, compared to 93.4 per cent of the top 20 per cent. It added that 59.6 per cent of India's population lives in a room or less.

The report said 1.7 crore women lost their job in April 2020 and unemployment for women rose by 15 per cent from a pre-lockdown level.

Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said if not addressed immediately, the crisis could worsen.

"Extreme inequality is not inevitable, but a policy choice. The fight against inequality must be at the heart of economic rescue and recovery efforts now," Behar said.

"Newer and creative ways of catering to the needs of the masses is possible if governments are committed to the needs of its people. It is time for the government of India to take specific and concrete actions that will build a better future, more equal and just a future for everyone," he said.