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Red Threat on Tiger Census

Ahead of the ambitious tiger census in 2022, there are disturbing reports of disruption in the counting of the big cats in Palamu tiger reserve located in Jharkhand where  Naxalites have yet again threatened the tiger estimation work. Last year there were reports that the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) officials were allegedly taken hostage by the left wing ultras in Palamu when they were carrying out the work of setting up cameras in the jungle to capture the images of the tigers for the census. However, they were released later.  Palamu is not the only tiger reserve  in India facing the red threat. Indravati national park in Chattisgarh, now considered as a Naxal hotspot, and Similipal in Odisha are some other national parks where the Naxals  have affected the wildlife conservation projects. 2022 is an important year for tiger conservation as the tiger range countries – mainly the countries where the big cat is found  in South East Asia  and the Russian Far East - had  decided in

Bandhavgarh Needs to Step-up Efforts to Handle Man- Animal Conflict

The wildlife india, Tiger, Bandhavgarh, Bandhavgarh national park,
Solo with  her cub
Any news about the death of a tiger always hurts.  Suspected poisoning of a tigress, one of the most popular, big cats of Bandhavgarh national park, surrounded by about 100 villages , shocked the wildlife lovers earlier this week. Before the exact reason of her death is known and viscera were sent for forensic analysis, various theories started floating by the mushrooming tiger experts over the suspicious death of Solo, the 10 year tigress.  A latest picture of the tigress showed wound marks on her body-a deep wound near her neck exposing flesh, caused, perhaps, after fight with Chakardhara male, a ferocious tiger of the park.

Tragic End of Solo: Who Killed the Tigress

The wildlife india, Tiger, Bandhavgarh, Bandhavgarh national park,
Officially known as T42, the name Solo  was given by  a crew of the BBC some years ago while shooting for its documentary ‘The Hunt’  in the tiger reserve. Solo was born to the legendary female Rajbehra and Jobhi -male in 2011. It was Rajbehra’s first litter of cubs. Solo dethroned her mother in 2018 and dominated amongst the rest of her three .She was raising her first litter of four cubs- three females and one male- when she died. Her highly decomposed body was found lying near a village called Mahaman. Half of the body  was already consumed by  the wild animals. Body of one of her female cubs was found lying about 200 meters away from that of the mother.

For the past  some days , probably in the last week of September - the tigress started straying near villages and the villagers insisted the park management take her back to the core area of the forest. Villagers claimed that  the tigress had killed a number of cattle .A week before her death which was reported on October 17 , the park management , perhaps,under  pressure from the villagers, was making efforts to push the tigress along with her four cubs  back to the core area of the reserve. As many as 8 elephants were also deployed for the operation.  But a tiger in the wild can’t be controlled like a pet dog. As there is enough cattle population near the villages, tigers in Bandhavgarh tend to stray for easy prey only to be poached later. This is also giving rise to man animal conflict around the  prestigious park for a long time. There is a long history for the past many years when the tigers are suspected to be killed by the villagers. After the latest  incident, the villagers in Mahaman are tight -lipped. This is the second case of a tiger death linked with the village.

Also read :Protect This Wildlife Corridor to Save The Ganges

Time to Dump FSL Sagar and Move to CCMB Hyderabad

The wildlife india, Tiger, Bandhavgarh, Bandhavgarh national park,
 Sub adult cubs of Solo 
Though the forest department has not come out with any reason behind her death, sources suspect it also a case of retribution killing by villagers. “It is a suspected case of poisoning”, they claimed. “While the tigress did not have any injury marks on it, the cub had a small puncture mark on the ribs”, they said. The tigress has three other cubs and a search was launched to trace them. Though  the  park management did not release any picture of the dead tigersses, two photographs ,allegedly  those of Solo and her cub, started circulating. A decomposed cattle carcass was also spotted a few meters away from the body of Solo and found consumed by scavengers like vultures. Besides taking the samples of the carcass, samples of a tiger vomit were also collected from nearby and sent to the FSL Sagar. As the forensic science lab of Sagar is busy with a lot of other work because of the pandemic, the viscera reports of the tigress will be delayed and till then the cause of the death would remain shrouded in mystery. Even the sample reports of tiger deaths of the past were also not received from the FSL.Experts however, are baffled  why the samples are not sent to the prestigious Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Hyderabad. “ Reports from the CCMB are delivered early. They are more authentic as well”, opined the experts. The CCMB  in the past had cracked many cases of tiger poaching from different parts of the country..

Also read :Mystery shrouds Panna tiger deaths

This is not the first mysterious  death of tigers in Bandhavgarh. In the last three years, at least three iconic tigers have died under mysterious circumstances. They include Kankatti, Sukhi Patiha and Rajbehra- female, mother of Solo. All of them were allegedly poisoned by local villagers. A villager said the tigress along with her four cubs, moved to the buffer zone of the reserve sometime in the last week of September  and the villagers were terrorized by the tigress.  With a history of rising territory fights of the big cats in Bandhavgarh, it is believed that Chakardhara male might have  pushed her outside after a fight leading to the injury near the neck. Another theory suggests  availability of prey around villages might have lured her  to move out to the buffer zone. There were reports of  tiger attacks on some villagers near Kachoha and Manpur villages  near the buffer zone. All such reports are disturbing and may  intensify further man -animal conflict. The park has already lost as many as 8 tigers in the last seven months, including the two cubs on October 10.Three tiger deaths were reported on April 22, May 2 and September 24, all  allegedly because of territory fight. Solo and her cub were the latest casualties. The park management  needs to step up the efforts of confidence-building measures with the villagers to minimise the human wild animal conflict.

Spotty, Dotty or Chota Bheem: The Show Will Go On

The wildlife india, Tiger, Bandhavgarh, Bandhavgarh national park,
Chota Bheem 
Bandhavgarh tiger reserve is known for high tiger density with some popular tigers and  catchy names- Spotty,  Dotty, Kajri and Chota Bheem among others. Also raring to go are the three sub adults of Solo but they will have to struggle hard in the absence of their mother. There are many more - almost 100- in Bandhavgarh..But those sighted in tourists’ range become popular. With a distinctive ‘T’ marking on the right side of her forehead  a little above the right eye, gave Spotty her name. She became famous from 2015 onwards when  conquered Tala range.Sibling of Spotty ,Dotty got her name because of the ‘D’ mark over her forehead. But Chota Bheem is one of the most famous among them. Barely three year old , this male tiger was born to Choti Mahaman and Bheem, believed to be the biggest male tiger of Bandhavgarh. Chota Bheem inherited all the characteristics of his father . The tourists’ guides in the park call him the show stopper in Khitauli zone in 2019. This beautiful big cat is now dominating almost one-third of the tourism zone. People will soon forget Solo and her memory will vanish from the minds of the visitors.Some new tiger will not only take over her jungle territory but also catch people's imagination.
All the pictures by Ravi Shukla 


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