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Are Lion Tailed Macaque More Fortunate than Panna Tigers: A Tale of Two Projects

Almost a  year after the Karnataka high court stayed the project that had further threatened the already endangered lion tailed macaque (LTM) ((Macaca silenus), endemic to the Sharavathi river valley nestled in the Western Ghats; the sword of Damocles continues to hang over the primates. The Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) had launched a geothermal survey  with heavy machines to ascertain if the 2000 MW underground pump storage hydro-electric project was feasible. Besides LTM, the Sharavathi river valley is also home to a diverse array of species and sustains very rich biodiversity. Though the  court stay continues, the south Indian state has not yet withdrawn the project. For the time being, the power project may not have been in the priority list of the government after the change in the political guard, it continues to stare at LTM menacingly. Sharavathi Valley, a Jewel in the Western Ghats The project was proposed within the core area of 902 sq km in the Sharavathi Valle

Love Life of 'Papa' Tiger: A Threat to Cubs?

Shouldering the responsibility of the four orphaned cubs after the death of his mate on May 15 in Panna tiger reserve, the male tiger seems to have been courting two tigresses ringing alarm bells for the young ones. Initially the tiger apparently refused the company of tigresses . After the death of their mother – the tigress P213-32 - the male tiger 243 has not harmed the four cubs. They have now turned 10 -months old. So far the tiger has protected the cubs from co- predators.  On  July 29, the World Tiger Day, we bring an amazing story of the tiger family from Panna where the park management is learning new lessons on the behavior of the top predator every day.  

United they Stand, Kill and Survive

On May 15 2021, the tigress 213-32 died of “unknown illness”. The tigress was survived by the four cubs which were about 7 months old and their life was at risk.  But  the tiger P243 .considered as their father  ,always remained around them . The tiger not only protected the cubvs but also  shared  kill with them  when the big cat had hunted a Sambhar deer on  May 21, six days after the death of the mother.

Also read:Lonely Panna Tiger Misses Mate While Rearing Four Cubs

Hunting for a tiger means identifying a prey, chase and kill it without getting hurt. Most of the big cats catch their prey from behind  and   chock  the neck  of the prey with its powerful jaw . But all this requires skills, passed on by their mother. Though the cubs have yet to develop hunting skills in the absence of their mother, they are learning how to kill. “They can now kill a live prey, if it doesn’t run and is of suitable size”, said the park director Uttam Kumar Sharma.  “It is a long journey for cubs to learn the required skills, first for acquiring all the skills of killing a live prey and finally hunting down the prey. And this will take time”, he observed.  The cubs will be considered safe  at the age of 14 months.

P243 and his Love Stories

The satellite data of past one and half months seems to have bothered the park management a little. It shows lots of movement of Tiger P243 outside its known territory.   The data revealed some interesting developments . The movement of  tiger P243 showed  that   10 days after the death of his mate, the tiger had come in close proximity of a tigress P213-63 on May 25. But the relationship did not last longer. No further interaction was found between them. Later Tiger P243 was seen frequently moving in the areas of two tigress  code named P652 and P653. Both tigresses are about two and half years of age but “yet to be seen pairing with any male tiger.”  But the park management always suspected “some relationship”. On July 22, it was observed that P243 was found with another tigress. He was also carrying some injury marks possibly  the result of fighting with some tiger. Next day an elephant search party was dispatched and the party confirmed the suspicion– the tiger P243 was found with tigress P652. Both seem to be enjoying each others company. 

Also read:  Diamond Digging To Destroy Tiger Corridor In Bundelkhand 

Those injury marks were minor but it suggested that P243 and Tigress P652 came together after the former had a fight with other male tiger in the area and won. However, the identity of the other male tiger is yet to be ascertained.  Tiger P243 also has been observed courting with Tigress P653. Due to his courtship with two tigresses, P243 is spending less and less time in cub’s territory and latest satellite data reveals that he was not seen near cubs’ since July 16 . Currently both the tigresses - P652 and P653 -maintain their own territory but with the entry of Tiger P243, there are chances that one of them may move closer to cub’s territory in future. And this may create new equations in the tiger family. The park management is vigil.

What Lies Ahead for the Tiger Family

If the tiger P243 pairs with other tigresses (P652 or P653 or both), how the situation will emerge? Will there be any changes in the behavior of P243 towards the cubs?  If any tigress comes close to cubs’ territory with Tiger P243, will this become a threat to them?  “These are the new challenges and no one knows what lies ahead in the store for the tiger family.  “It will definitely shed more light on the tiger behavior and  it will be a new learning  and valuable experience for the tiger reserve management and to all those who now feel related to the continuing and evolving story”, says Uttam Kumar the park director .


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