An adventurous Ranthambore tiger takes a long walk to Bharatpur

Posted on
21 October 2010
Unable to find suitable territory, young male claims popular bird sanctuary as one

Rajasthan’s Ranthambore Tiger Reserve is 1334 sq. km large and its core - the 275 Sq. km. Ranthambore National Park is a haven for a healthy population of tigers. While the strict protection afforded to this reserve has increased the number of tigers, this also means more competition between these big cats for the limited space. The ones that do not succeed in finding a territory that they can call their own often move out of the tiger reserve.

But most tigers venturing out of the reserve, like other tiger bearing protected areas across India, either get killed by humans or are captured and sent to the zoos. But there are a few that survive and end their adventure, nevertheless ordeal, in a far away forest. According to Mr. B S Rathore, Assistant Conservator of Forests of Karauli (Buffer), Ranthambore National Park, about 5 male tigers originating from Ranthambore are currently roaming outside it. T47 or Mohan has been away for nearly 3 years now, playing hide and seek with the authorities in the ravines of River Chambal near Rajasthan’s border with Madhya Pradesh.1 Another of these - T7, has just called Keoladeo National Park, the world-renowned haven for birds near Bharatpur town in north-east Rajasthan, its sweet home.

From Ranthambore to Mathura
Being one of the most easily accessible tiger reserve’s from the nation’s capital New Delhi, Ranthambore has been in the spotlight of tourists ever since its inclusion in Project Tiger in 1973. And the spotlight has meant that the tigers here enjoy unparalleled attention by the nature lovers apart from their guardians - the Rajasthan’s forest department. The park’s different sub-adult and adult tigers have been individually named over the years. Among the most famous being T16 or Machili. This female tiger was also known as the Queen of the lakes due to it being the dominant tiger of the territory around the famous lakes of Ranthambore – Malik talao, Padam talao, and Raj bagh. Machili is supposed to be one of the most photographed wild royal Bengal tigers in the world. According to an estimate by Travel Operators For Tigers (TOFT), Machli has contributed more than $10 million per annum in the decade of 1999 to 2009 to the economy of Ranthambore2. It has also given as many as 11 cubs to the park. Like wise a male 5-year old tiger T7 has been in the news for some time now. It set off a nation-wide buzz a couple of months ago when it attacked the Ranger who tried to tranquilise it in Ranthambore. In mid-September it was spotted near Mathura town in Uttar Pradesh and injured a couple of people who got uncomfortably close to it.3

Journey to Bharatpur

On 4 October, authorities of Keoladeo National park got news of a tiger hiding in the maize fields close to the important National Highway 2 near Farha village in Mathura district. A team comprising of park authorities, officials from district administration and forest departments of UP and Rajasthan, a veterinarian from Jaipur Zoo, a researcher from WII apart from WWF-India set out in search of the animal. Says Abhishek Bhatnagar, Project Manager of WWF-India’s Fresh Water Progamme team working for Keoladeo Park “When we set out looking for the animal, we had no idea about its identity.” The animal was not found on that day. 

+ Enlarge the map

The next day, the team received news of tiger pug marks being found near Beri village, 5 km away. On 6th morning, after understanding the topography of the area and with the help of a map prepared using pug marks recorded over the previous two days it was concluded that it was moving in a south-westerly direction. A probable route the tiger might use to travel ahead was constructed on paper. Subsequently its pug marks were discovered at Dhana Jeevna village and by evening at Shazaadpur Gujjar village beyond which lay Rajasthan.

On the morning of 7th its pug mark was traced at Suti village of Bharatpur District from where the animal changed direction and started moving southwards. As it was getting difficult to track the animal, the entire team was split into six smaller teams which intensively combed the agricultural fields. Unfortunately it could not be found. At 10.00 am on the next day, pug marks were discovered at Ikran village and it was estimated that the tiger was at least 24 hours ahead of the search teams. Around 5:00 pm on the same day its pug marks were located in Pidani village about 9 km from the boundaries of Keoladeo National Park and on the 9th, after a long search, its pug marks were found in Bachamdi village about 4.8 km from the park.

The team had anxious moments combing the nearby areas trying to verify whether the tiger had moved into the park or not. Finally, around 7:00 pm on the 10th, information about a nilgai (blue bull) being killed inside the park was received. Also, there were reports of frequent alarm calls of spotted deer in the park which gave a strong indication that this might be due to a tiger, probably the same. The dead nilgai was examined and there were signs all around of this work being that of a tiger. On 11th afternoon, two camera traps were fixed in the area, which photographed the tiger. After consulting the Forest Department officials based at Jaipur and Ranthambore Park as well as the Wildlife Institute of India, it was confirmed that this was T-7, the male tiger from Ranthambore.

Adds Abhishek “On the 12th two more kills were found in the park – calf of a domestic cow and a wild boar. Additional images from camera traps on 13th at the site of the wild boar kill clearly indicate that it is settling down in the park”. 

Says Dr. Parikshit Gautham, Director of WWF-India’s Fresh Water Programme “The fact that the tiger is safe is a matter of relief for all who worked to protect it. The Keoladeo Park authorities are doing a good job of monitoring the tiger and ensuring its safety”.

This is the second instance of a tiger entering the park since the last wild one was shot here in 1962.4 In mid-1999 a tigress about 2 years old settled here, probably again moving in from Ranthambhore.5 It died at the peak of the water shortage in the park in June 2005.



blog comments powered by Disqus
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.