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Experts Anxious Till Cheetahs Adapt Kuno National Park, Tourism Not Priority

  International cheetah experts are closely monitoring the movements of 8 spotted cats released on September 17 in Kuno National Park of central India state of Madhya Pradesh. Cheetahs are quarantined for a month and only trained Namibian handlers are allowed to “take care” of the  fastest land animal housed in different small enclosures. The animals are watched from machaans –  watch tower situated about “100 meters away”. Amidst continuing negative media reports on the success of the translocation project, the biggest concern of the Union ministry of forest, environment and climate change (MoEFC&C)   is adaptation  of new environs. “Let's see how soon the cheetahs adapt Kuno”.   Indian Officials Optimistic   Cheetahs are housed in smaller enclosures, the one shown on televisions sets when PM Narendra Modi released them on his birthday on September 17. After one month, they are likely to be released in a bigger enclosure. In another one month or so, they will be released in a

Lonely Tiger Returns Home After One Decade

Kuno Palpur  Ntional Park, Madhya Pradesh, Ranthambhore National Park, tiger reserve of Rajasthan, Ranthambhore ka Sher,

If tigers are solitary creatures, don't they get lonely and depressed? An interesting question ran by Quora on July 29, 2017. About three years later, a tiger itself seemed to have answered this query. 

This tiger lived , alone ,in Kuno Palpur  Ntional Park of Madhya Pradesh for 10 years, yes, one decade !  Recently the elderly tiger reached his home Ranthambhore National Park , almost 100 kms away, safely. Code named T38 by the officials of this wonderful tiger reserve of Rajasthan some time in 2006 -07, the big cat was known as “Ranthambhore ka Sher '' in Kuno,  the park awaiting the arrival of lions for three decades now. For this reason, Madhya Pradesh has not relocated any tiger in the park to increase  their number and for the past 3650 days, T38  was living absolutely unaccompanied  . Interestingly , there was no tigress around and T38 spent a bachelor’s life. The predator would hunt and was quite healthy.

A tiger expert of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) said in a lighter vein , “  achcha khasa yahan reh rahaa thaa, ab budhape mein kyu pitne gaya wapis Ranthambhore" ( living comfortably here, why did he go to Ranthambhore to be thrashed ( by young tigers). Experts believe that he was pushed to Kuno 10 years ago because of high density of tigers in Ranthambhore. For ten years he ruled this jungle before ‘renunciation’.

It was confirmed by PK Verma, divisional forest officer of Kuno wildlife division , “ there  was no other tiger in the forest. Presence of the female was never recorded ” .Tigers do not live in groups like lions do. Mostly , they live solitary lives except when females are raising cubs. Although rarely seen, the term for a group of tigers is a "streak”. But living ten years absolutely alone  and  the "homing instinct" baffled even  the tiger experts.

In  fact, the capture of T38 in a trap camera after so many years came as a surprise to  the field staff of Ranthambhore.  The tiger movement was captured in a camera trap installed near Bhadlav and Chiroli regions of Kundera range on October 19 and 24. Later on November 15, the movement of the big cat was again recorded in the area of Talada range.

To cross check , Ranthambhore officials matched the latest pictures of T38 with the images of Kuno-Palpur trap camera’s and  the return journey of T38 was finally  established.

The Jungle Corridor Fragementing Day by Day

Kuno Palpur  Ntional Park, Madhya Pradesh, Ranthambhore National Park, tiger reserve of Rajasthan, Ranthambhore ka Sher,
Tiger corridors are fragmented in India
Ranthambhore ka tiger was born to tigress T-13, a sibling of T-39, better known as Noor, one of the most famous tigresses of Ranthambore. She is very famous among the wildlife photographers. At present, T-13 is the oldest surviving tigress in Ranthambore, park officials said.

An official said, “There is a possibility that more young tigers might have reached Kuno and pushed the old tiger from the jungle . They said after  T38 returned , they have also written a letter to Madhya Pradesh forest department to closely monitor the presence of big cats and coordinate with Rajasthan about movement of the tigers.  In the past, after T38 reached Kuno, atleast two more tigers migrated from Ranthambhore but they never stayed in the jungle. Movement of T71 was recorded but it later vanished. Similarly, T56 lived in the sanctuary before moving further to Datia, about 175 kms , and then disappeared.

Also read : Protect This Wildlife Corridor to Save Ganges

T38 returned to Ranthanbhore through a   fragmented corridor  ,deteriorating each passing day , connecting the two jungles. Though there are three rivers, villages and agriculture fields in between; Ranthambhore -ka -sher succeeded in his return journey.  Between Ranthambhore and Kuno, river Chambal forms the boundary between MP and Rajathnan .It is not easy for a tiger to  move between the two jungles  from Rajasthan to Madhya Pradesh.  An old guard in Ranthambhore explains the  route that might have been taken by T38 while dispersing to Kuno a decade ago. “T38 walked southeast to cross Banas river and continued to move in a ravine patch of forest, before crossing the Chambal at its confluence  with Param and then followed the river upstream to reach Kuno . Of course, it had to cross over Kuno river and the agriculture fields before finally reaching the park.”  The river kuno and Param pass through Kuno park while Doni and Seep flows in the larger Kuno landscape.

Ten years later when he started  his return journey, the situation was even worse. A major project of  flattening of ravines  in Rajasthan has  further fragmented the corridor destroying the ravine ecology, officials said.

This fragmentation has  also denied the famous national park of the desert state of fresh -gene pool from Madhya Pradesh. “ But nobody  is bothered about the corridor”, they rued.

Kuno awaits for Asiatic Lions

Kuno Palpur  Ntional Park, Madhya Pradesh, Ranthambhore National Park, tiger reserve of Rajasthan, Ranthambhore ka Sher,

Now that the lone tiger has also left Kuno, the jungle is left without a big cat. Till now there is no fresh evidence of some new tiger . The lions also continue to elude Kuno. It has been 30  years since Kuno Palpur was first identified as the site for the relocation of Asiatic lions, from their last habitat in Gujarat, to protect them from extinction. Currently, there are 674 lions in the Gir landscape and this relocation project was supposed to have been finished by 2020.  In the present circumstances , relocation of the mighty predator doesn’t seem to be happening. Now the ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change WII has  started toying with the idea of  introducing cheetahs in Kuno.

Also read: Problem of Plenty: Gir Lions Turn Scavengers AsDeadly Virus Stares

Recently, when a feasibility survey for the translocation of this fastest animal on four legs is being done, WII experts  also included Kuno for the project survey.  Though Rs 100 crores  were spent while preparing the jungle to accord welcome to lions, cheetahs  can also be brought  in cases conforms to the criteria for cheetah relocation.

“ If a cheetah is brought, it doesn’t mean  that Kuno can't host lions. They  do coexist in African jungles and they did  coexist here in India before it was declared extinct  in 1952”, officials said.

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