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Egyptian Vultures: Victims of Myths And Misconception

In one of the most shocking cases of wildlife trade, seven endangered Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus), have been recovered from a man traveling from Kanpur to Manmad in Maharashtra. Wrapped in colourful cloth, the vultures were hidden inside a basket in Pushpak Express when the railway police rounded up the man with the threatened birds. The arrest is likely to unearth a wildlife crime syndicate. This blog will keep you updated on the issue . The scavenger birds are listed as endangered in the IUCN red list  threatened species because of its “rapidly declining"  population world over”. Myths Linked With Vultures Special task force (SIT) of Madhya Pradesh forest department is quizzing Fareed Sheikh (60) who was found in possession of 7 birds from a train at Khandwa railway station. He turned out to be only a   carrier-  like those  in drug trafficking. Fareed said that  Sameer Khan, a resident of  Kanpur, handed him over the vultures and  he was  asked to transfer the co

Surviving the Toughest Test : A tale Told by Tiger Siblings


This is a beautiful story of four tiger siblings- fortunate for two reasons. First, after the tragic death of their mother seven months ago, they were not caged but given a chance to learn and survive in the wild. Second, they not only survived but learnt all the skills required to be alive in the jungle where the law of nature prevails. They have lived to tell a different tiger tale. 

Life after Mother’s Death

In May 2021, when the park was parched and mercury was soaring, Uttam Kumar Sharma, the field director of Panna tiger reserve narrateda chilling story of the four orphaned cubs, three males and one female .Their mother had died of  a" msysterious" illness when they were very young and needed mother’s shadown to survive . As the park management pondered over the situation after the disheartening news of her death, there were many suggestions to save the cubs.“But only a few  suggested leaving cubs in the wild. Most of the people recommended capturing the cubs and keeping them in a big enclosure till they attain adulthood and later re-wild them”, Sharma later revealed.  “Capturing and caging them was not very difficult. It would have reduced our burden of future challenges of ensuring their survival till they are able to manage themselves”, he said.   But the park management opted for  the “risky option”.  “Even a single tiger in the wilderness of PTR is much better than 4 tigers in captivity”, he said after the hard work of their monitoring paid rich dividends and the cubs turned into sub-adults.  

In the last seven months, the tiger reserve team monitored the cubs and the  radio colared -tiger -P243- their father closely. At one stage this tiger appeared to be the immediate threat to cubs. But gradually it was realized that, in an unprecedented move, the father had started rearing the cubs. P243 remained in the cubs’territory helping them in survival. Due to the presence of the tiger, the cubs were protected from other co-predators, especially other male tigers. “Initially there seemed to be daily interaction between P243 and cubs, which later becameless frequent, but even then, no instances of P243 presenting any threat to cubs were observed.  Interestingly, P243 did not share kill with cubs. “It was neither observed nor recorded”, park sources said.  It mainly became the responsibility ofthe park management to ensure that the fur siblings get timely kills. “ Though these cubs initiated hunting attempts as soon as they turned 10 months old,complete skills were still a far cry”, the park director said. 
Job done, Father Moves on

Now P243, their father, is seen with 2 females- P142 andP652.  Earlier it was observed that P243was loitering about with tigresses P652 and P653. But his relationship with P653did not  last long. P243 has now shiftedits territory more towards the Northern side of the park , mainly towards Hinota range.As P243 is shifting its territory, there is lots of re-adjustment happening inother males’ territory in adjacent areas also. And as P243 visits to Cub’sTerritory have become less frequent, other male tigers have been observed crossing the cub’s territory but so far there are no reports of any conflict.  

Seven months after their mother’s death, all four have survived the toughest period of their life. They are now nearly 15 month oldand fall in the category of ‘sub-adult’. All four are healthy and grown in sizenow. Though, not all may be of the same size,  their average weight may be around 120 kgseach. They have been code named as P213-32(21), P213-32 (22), (23) and (24).P213-32(24) is the female. They have fine -tuned their hunting skill and they are nowable to kill small prey like a small sized Chital, wild Pig or calf of Sambhar or Nilgai and also small sized cattle. Park authorities did provide necessaryassistance for food whenever a need was felt. But to survive in the wild requiresquick learning on their part. And they have done so very fast. One thing which requires special mention is that once they start hunting, excitement of hunting overtakes them and they don’t like any assistance for food. 

United they stand but for how long?

All four are still united and should remain together for atleast next 5-6 months when they would start charting their own individualterritories. Initial threat of Leopard or Sloth Bear killing cubs was over whenthey became 9-10 month old. But, the threat of other tigers   stillcannot be ruled out. Generally, tigers start exploring on their own at the age of around 20 months.  

Now, they have reacheda stage when they can hunt with ease and elegance. As they remained in the wildwithout their mother, perhaps, they are more skilled in surviving the wild. “But finally, it is wild nature and it has its own rules and if we surrender to nature's intelligence, we could rise up rooted, like trees”, says the park director.“The fundamental rule of nature is ‘Survival of Fittest’. As managers, we cannot ensure the survival of all the tigers, all the time. It’s not possible andit cannot be this way. Only fit and strong will survive”, he said. The fourcubs, now sub-adults, will have to chart their own way. Nature is rude andtigers know this better than us.
Images courtsey : Panna tiger reserve 


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