Tigers at large around Ranthambhore National Park

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Tigers at large around Ranthambhore National Park
JAIPUR: Tiger cubs are spilling out of the Ranthambhore National Park
in Rajasthan creating a problem of plenty for the wildlife
authorities and scaring the wits out of the human population in
adjoining villages and towns.
As many as half a dozen tiger cubs in the age group of 18-to-24-
months have been playing truant during the past couple of months. The
park managers have even announced a reward for anyone who informs on
Yuvaraj, by now a notorious wandering cub, who has been missing for
over two months now.
One female cub which left the Ranthambhore territory went up to
neighbouring Kailadevi sanctuary to return to the park later. She was
spotted near Mandrayal on the banks of the Chambal river, some 80 to
100 km from the park, on several occasions. A 20-month-old cub out on
a similar expedition reached Burri Pahadi on two occasions.
A young feline from Lahapur region in the park walked across the
Khandaar forest range to reach the banks of the Chambal.
A tigress belonging to Maigaon region in the park often forays into
the villages to feed on domestic animals. A few days ago she killed a
cow in a village 10 km outside the park, creating a stir.
“The park is getting overpopulated with tigers. The young tigers are
finding it difficult to get some space of their own,” says Rajpal
Singh, Member of the Rajasthan State Wildlife Board, talking about
the escapades of the tiger cubs.
“It is a growing up process. There are too many young tigers trying
to establish their own territories. At the age of 18-24 months the
cubs start separating from their mothers and looking for their own
territories,” he explains.
“It is not a good sign that the tigers are moving out of the forest
area. It is more serious when the truant animal is a tigress,” says
Mr. Singh, adding, “Once out of the forest, the tigers find it
difficult to survive for long as their prey base shrinks.”
Tigers moving out of Project Tiger reserves is not a new phenomenon.
Some eight years ago a tigress had made a surprise entry into the
Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur and stayed put in its 29 sq km
territory for years without hurting the predominant herbivorous
atmosphere in the bird sanctuary. Yet another tiger, spotted in the
Darrah sanctuary, met with a gory death after getting on to the
railway track. In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh there has been a case
recently of one tiger moving out of the Pench sanctuary to the
Chhindwara forests.
“The Ranthambhore National Park with its 392 sq km area now has 13-14
cubs aged between 18-24 months and they have started looking for
their own territory. The spill-over is seemingly due to lack of
individual space which can be solved with re-location of some of
them,” says Rajasthan Chief Wildlife Warden R. N. Mehrotra,
adding, “In the process of establishing own territories, the females
and the weaker ones get driven out.”
Interestingly, even when there were doubts about the exact number of
tigers in Ranthambhore in the past, the park had always guaranteed
good visibility of the animal, especially of the cubs. At present the
park is said to be having 45 tigers out of whom 13 are semi-adults or
“The young felines, once out of the protected environment, become
vulnerable not only to the vagaries of the terrain but also to
threats from poachers and even common people who feel threatened. The
cubs themselves get scared once they are out of the forest and find
no green cover to camouflage them,” points out Mr. Mehrotra. “Their
wanderings are mostly in the Chambal territory. Once they cross the
river, their return too would be difficult,” he adds.
The park authorities are seriously considering radio-collaring the
wanderers so that they can be traced in the wilderness.
Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Sunday, Dec 23, 2007

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