Two trekking tigers walk into record books

Two Bengal tigers taking bath        (Representative image)
(Representative image)

Two young male tigers, both on epic journeys of their own, are walking their way into record books. One has logged 1,160km so far and the other 450km, which are among the longest recorded distances covered by any tiger in the country.

C1, a radio-collared tiger from Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Pandharkawda in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal had stepped out of the sanctuary in search of a new “home” on June 21, 2019, after being radio-collared on February 27, 2019. It has so far travelled 1,160km through six districts in two states, Telangana and Maharashtra, moving through human-dominated landscapes virtually without being seen.

The second tiger, K7, is a male cub of resident tigress, Falguna, in Kagaznagar (Telangana). It was first recorded on September 11, 2019, in Pranhita Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra. Forest officials expected the tiger to return after rains but it was seen further out on October 19 in Chamorshi in Allapalli forest division in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli.

Both tigers have proved to be great survivors, not only moving with stealth, but also surviving threats like electrocution by farmers.

“From the stripe pattern, it is the same tiger that moved out in September from Kagaznagar. K7 was pushed by a dominating male, A1,” said forest range officer S Venu Gopal. “Such dispersal is a good indication for genetically viable populations in the long run,” he added.

C1’s journey has been epic and eventful. The tiger, which survived getting entangled in a wire snare, went towards Painganga wildlife sanctuary from Tipeshwar, and onward towards Kawal tiger reserve in Telangana.

After exploring areas near Kawal, C1 turned back and went to Painganga followed by Isapur bird sanctuary, Pusad, Hingoli, Washim and now Akola. During its entire journey, despite moving along human-dominated landscape, tiger was never seen by anyone until November 3, when it accidentally injured a villager from Sukali near Hingoli. Now it is 70km from Melghat Tiger Reserve in Amravati district.

Maharashtra chief wildlife warden Nitin H Kakodkar said, “Tigers may be dispersing earlier too. With radio collaring, we are able to know better about corridors and dispersal patterns. Tipeshwar tiger’s movement shows big cats are crying for space, especially after an increase in numbers from 190 (2014) to 312 (2018) in the state. We need to explore the potential of Gadchiroli to accommodate the increasing numbers.”

“We will discuss radio-collaring tigers in Gadchiroli with Wildlife Institute of India (WII),” he added. Scientist from WII, Bilal Habib said, “Movement of the Tipeshwar tiger is perhaps the longest by any individual in the country. Its dispersal towards Melghat or Satpura ranges indicates functional connectivity of the landscape. This also shows ability of tigers to negotiate through human-dominated landscapes and opens new challenges for conservation,” said Habib.

Allapalli deputy conservator of forests C R Tambe said, “We have installed eight camera traps to monitor the dispersing K7. During its entire journey, the tiger did not harm anyone and was mostly feeding on cattle. It has survived threats like electrocution by farmers.” (Times of India)

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