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Return of ‘Bagheera’ in the Mowgli land of Pench

In the Mowgli land of Central India’s Pench tiger reserve , ‘ Bagheera’  has returned. And this black leopard is attracting the attention of a large number of wildlife tourists. So far only a few lucky people have got a chance to see some glimpses of this elusive big cat, mostly wandering around the buffer zone of the jungle and also often visiting the core area. Despite the presence of  the star big -cats like Collarwalli, Patdev or L-Mark, there is a lot of buzz  in the park about ‘ Bagheera‘ too. Kipling Immortalises Black Panther Rudyard Kipling immortalized the black panther  –Bagheera. As a child Kipling lived in India and most of his stories are set in the country, though it is not entirely clear in exactly which part of the country.  The jungles that claim to be associated with Kipling stories include Pench National Park located near the district of Seoni.  Also read : Like Her Mother in Pench, Patdev Tigress delivers 5 cubs The park is also popularly known as Mowgli land and t

Bhopal Tigers Do Have the Same Fundamental Right to A home As Do We

The dispersing tigers  of  Bhopal  seem to be watching helplessly as their  habitat grows smaller, food getting scarcer while a smarter set of predators, the land sharks, increasingly devour their habitat. As you read this, prowling somewhere in the fast-dwindling forests of Kaliasot- Kathotia-Kerwa , on the city outskirts, are 18  magnificent tigers, whose future hangs on the pen tips of Bhopal’s babudom.

 Pending Tiger Issues


Many times, some of these dispersing tigers have left the balding jungle cover and strayed into the National Judicial Academy at  Bhadbhada , as if knocking its doors for justice

 Two tiger issues have been pending for long.  After the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)   accorded a status of tiger reserve to Ratapani sanctuary, the source population of Bhopal tigers, in 2013, the state government needs to issue a notification.  The matter has been pending for the past 7 years. In fact, Ratapani was first recommended as a tiger reserve 17 years ago by the then Principal chief Conservator of Forest  AP Dwivedi in 2013.

Besides, a file to declare Kaliasot- Kathotia-Kerwa tract a conservation reserve   has been gathering dust for the past 10 years.

The latest in the series is a wonderful recommendation. The regional office of the ministry of environment and forest and climate change in Bhopal reportedly recommended saving tiger habitat    near Bhopal. It also said “mapping, notifying and handing over “all the remaining deemed forest areas to the state forest department for administration. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the forest department to go ahead with these recommendations.

Now the ball is in the court of the state government. In the times of climate change and global warming, the Madhya Pradesh government needs to show a strong political will to follow the directives of the centre to save these green lungs.

In the latest tiger census, there are 45 tigers counted in Ratapai sanctuary, the source population of the dispersing tigers of Bhopal. which is more than  in many national parks including Panna tiger reserve and  Sanjay national park Sidhi.  As the number of tigers in Ratapani is more than its carrying capacity and the prey –predator ratio is skewed, the tigers are dispersing.

If the beautiful jungle is upgraded as a tiger reserve,  its forest area   will be increased by  the inclusion of the adjacent Singhora sanctuary as a buffer zone. Herbivore like spotted deer would be translocated from Pench national park- a proposal already long pending- and the last but very important, more funds  will be available for the conservation  works. But the tiger -reserve tag will come along with more restrictions and , perhaps, no government would like them in  the times of populist political measures which undermine  forest and environment issues. Several activities around the  jungles  including  industries and land ownerships are believed to be the reasons behind  the hurdles why  the decision is delayed, and perhaps, may not be taken. But the wildlife lovers are disheartened.

The Wildlife Corridor

The tigers from Ratapani travel a few hundred kms from a  traditional forest corridor, fast shrinking. As the big cats move out from Ratapani, they cross Bhopal- actually a mid -way treat for them where food, shelter and water is available- they further  walk down  to Sehore, Kheoni Sanctuary in Dewas and  beyond to   the proposed Omkareshwar national park ,Choral and Shajapur forests of Western Madhya Pradesh.

The  NTCA  has set up an electronic surveillance system worth about Rs 5 crore    in Mendora village of Bhopal .There are 4 towers  each of them 50 meter high in a 20 km area . They are fitted with high resolution night - vision devices and cameras. However, in monsoon, it is difficult to keep a vigil because of a bigger forest crown.

All the statistics related to the tiger is collected every day and analysed to understand the territory and spots where the predator hunts. This also helps in giving compensation to the villagers for their cattle loss as there are 23  gaushalas around the jungle and the cattle from these cow shelters left in open for grazing in the jungle attract tigers.

The Tiger Territory

All of the tigers moving around Bhopal are identified with the help of their pictures  from the cameras fitted in the jungles. Geo mapping of the tiger territory has also been done with the help of Google map. Their movement is monitored on a day to day basis to track change in their territory.

“If we go into their genealogy, these tigers belong to the family of tigers T1 (male) and T2 (female) who originally belong to the neighbouring Ratapani sanctuary”, said a  senior IFS officer

The forest department has also took -up   a work to erect 5-meter high fencing in about 8 km length from Mendora to Bairagarh Chichli to ensure that the tiger doesn’t appear on the road.

The issue has come to fore as there  are whispers  again in the corridors of power that the government may change the land use of the Kerwa forests in the   long delayed Master Plan .     The protection of  the forest patch of  Kerwan –Kaliayasot  also known as Chandanpura is also  necessary  after the 2005 trend of change in land use in Bhopal when the land use of almost 1000 hectare green belt, botanical garden, city parks agriculture land and the land used for recreation purpose was changed to residential and PSP ( public and semi-public) purpose among others. The city master plan 2021 has been pending for very long  and  the  forest patch is perhaps  a major reason behind the inordinate delay.


  1. 45+ tigers! That's enough to grab the attention of wildlife lovers in particular. As the blog suggest that it is the source population of the dispersing tigers in bhopal, the authorities and general public needs to be more vigilant regarding these big cats. It's an opportunity for the Bhopalis to show their sensitivity toward wildlife. Populist or non populist politics, the ball is now bouncing in people's court...dont just like n forward messages n dont just show ur anger n make then take necessary actions. Let's take a pledge to provide the wildlife with their share of privacy.
    Nature is a fine mom provided she is treated well.


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