Tiger’s 200-km trek raises hope

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Tiger’s 200-km trek raises hope
Saturday December 22, 12:48 AM
A TIGER from Madhya Pradesh has travelled 200 km south to Maharashtra over the past four months, straying way beyond the species’ normal territorial radius of 20 km, a rare occurrence, scientists said.
They said the journey established that there was a viable route between two of India’s major tiger habitats, which could lead to genetic exchange between two animal groups and increase their food supply options, thereby boosting the population of one of the world’s most endangered species.
The tiger set out in August from Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, which has about 60 tigers, and was last spotted three weeks ago in the Maharashtra section of Pench National Park, which straddles both states and has about 65 tigers, forest officials told HT. Both are among the 28 chosen reserves for the nationwide Project Tiger conservation effort.
“Tiger populations in Kanha can provide a breeding surplus to neighbouring forests, which leads to genetic exchange between tiger reserves,” said Y.V. Jhala, senior professor at Dehradun’s Wildlife Institute of India, which fitted this tiger and nine others in Kanha with satellite radio collars in October last year, in order to study their movements and prepare a tiger map of central India. Genetic exchange improves the robustness of offspring.
“Few forest links remain that connect tiger reserves,” Jhala said. “But this tiger has proven that the Kanha-Pench link is a viable tiger corridor, which is vital for the survival of tigers in the Kanha-Pench-Satpura belt.”
Scientists do not yet know why the tiger strayed, but Jhala said it could be looking to stake out a new territory. The animal is three-and-a-half years old, while the average lifespan of tigers is 12 to 15 years.

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