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Jailed in Jungle: Why Wild Tigress Languishes in Enclosure, Needs to Be Probed

Two years ago, two wild tigers were relocated from Madhya Pradesh to Odisha under India’s maiden interstate -tiger translocation programme which failed miserably. The two big cats were shifted  to Satkosia tiger reserve in Odisha after its tiger population plummeted  from 11 in 2004 to 2 in 2014. One of the big cats  Mahavir sent from MP was reportedly  killed by poachers while Sundari, the tigress, accused of killing two persons,  landed behind barbed wires in a small  enclosure raising questions over the  wildlife management in the country. Many wildlife experts in  India feel that the Satkosia fiasco should be probed and the people responsible for the plight of the national animal  should be held accountable. Condemned to Captivity Before Sundari was condemned to captivity in  Ghorela enclosure in Mukki range of of Kanha  National park,  the tigress had  already  spent an agonizing period of  28 months in captivity in Satkosia, where it was sent  to find a new home and help populat

Tale of Missing Tigers of Ranthambhore: 4 More Takes the Count to 34

Ranthambhore National park, RNP, more tigers have  gone missing tigers, Kuno Palpur National Park, KPNP, Madhya Pradesh, RNP tigers, MP jungles,

Following the history of Ranthambhore National park (RNP) , four more tigers have  gone missing. These tigers have not been sighted for the past over 9 months. One of them- a tigress- is missing with her two cubs making the total number of missing cats 6. The park authorities have sought the help of the Kuno Palpur National Park (KPNP) in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh to help track them. The tigers which vanished from the Ranthambhore include T64, T95, T97 and the tigress T73.Two cubs of this tigress have also not been sighted. The RNP tigers often move out to the MP jungles situated on the banks of river Chambal.

 Mystery Shrouds the Vanishing Act

Ranthambhore National park, RNP, more tigers have  gone missing tigers, Kuno Palpur National Park, KPNP, Madhya Pradesh, RNP tigers, MP jungles,
Since 2009, the park has “mysteriously” lost 30 tigers, including seven old and 23 young ones.  Of these 23, the number of missing tigresses was 11.And if we include the latest case of four more, the number becomes 34.  Most of the time, the park authorities term it “a natural migration”. It is also believed by Rajasthan forest department that tigers may be moving out to create new territories because of their population in the park. Referring to the 11 ,missing tigresses , experts carry forward this theory of the forest department and  said  the female cats  are not known to move out for creating a territory.

When the four big cats and two cubs were not seen for long, the Ranthambhore authorities sought the help of  Kuno in November last year to trace T64, T95, T97 and the tigress T73 which  they said had not been sighted for the “ past six months” It means the tigers have  now been missing for the past nine months or so. The RNP authorities have requested the authorities in Kuno to look for these tigers in their camera traps. Sources said that all the three tigers are sub- adults. 

The Enigmatic T38

Ranthambhore National park, RNP, more tigers have  gone missing tigers, Kuno Palpur National Park, KPNP, Madhya Pradesh, RNP tigers, MP jungles,
There has been a history of tigers from the Ranthombhore   walking down to Kuno. The Park authorities cited the recent example of T38, the tiger which had spent 10 years alone in Kuno before going back to Ranthambhore last year. The tiger movement was captured in a camera trap installed near Bhadlav and Chiroli regions of Kundera range of RNP on October 19 and 24. Later on November 15, the movement of the big cat was again recorded in the area of Talada range.

Also Read: Lonely Tiger Returns Home After One Decade 

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 elderly tiger was finally  established.  This, in fact, was the same period when the park authorities had  started  looking for the six missing tigers including the two cubs when they wrote a letter to Kuno authorities during the same period. It was suspected that the presence of some young tiger in Kuno might have  led to the migration of T38.But so far no other tiger or any sign of its presence has been found in Kuno.

The Black Holes of Ranthambhore

Ranthambhore National park, RNP, more tigers have  gone missing tigers, Kuno Palpur National Park, KPNP, Madhya Pradesh, RNP tigers, MP jungles,

The total area of RTR is around 1334 square kilometers which includes Kaila Devi and Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary also. Area of critical tiger habitat falling under Karauli district remains a “problematic region” with dwindling forest cover, low level of prey base and increasing anthropogenic pressure due to which tiger does not feel safe, experts believe. A tiger named Mohan or T 47 living in Kunder range and another big cat called Fateh or T 42 from Phalodi range were  not sighted since January 2020, media reports in July last year said. “They are full grown tigers and may have moved out in the natural process”, the Ranthambhore authorities believed. Fateh , a very aggressive male, was very popular among tourists and was known for charging the vehicles. In one instance, this tiger had chased a vehicle carrying foreign tourists for almost 2 kms.

Eyebrows were raised by the officials of the Union ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change over the “ delay” in efforts to track the missing   Mohan then. “Sending a report that T-47 is missing after four months is a face-saving exercise”, they had said. “The field staff should be deployed to carry out patrolling to check the  tiger movement in the park”, they advised.

Also Read: FreshTiger Crisis in MP Midst Favourable Poaching Conditions 

This celebrated national park of Rajasthan, very famous among the wildlife tourists and wildlife photographers, had seen a major crisis in 2006 when only 18 tigers were left in the wilderness. After some wonderful conservation efforts, improved monitoring, better protection works and the involvement of local communities in the conservation process, the tiger numbers have grown from 18 to around 65 now in 2020.  And all this had happened amidst the  “vanishing act of tigers”,  experts said.  Interestingly, since 2006, only 2 tigers which include the world famous Machhali or T-16 and Big Daddy aka T-2 could attain full age and the forest department recovered their carcasses.  Tiger experts said that one of the reasons for the long life of these two big cats may be the attention given to them and they were getting supplementary food during the fag end of their life.

Experts claimed that there are two areas amounting to 60% of the total tigers that have gone missing from the park. Both these areas are natural habitats of the reserve but are close to 13 villages. 

(All are representational pictures)


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