Indian tigers are biggest attraction but two tigresses have made the country proud by showing amazing grit in coping with the pressures of being in the wild. An orphan tigress in Madhya Pradesh (MP) has successfully adopted the wild habitat, unlike her male companions, a global first. The second was the 15-year-old tigress in Rajasthan, who had earned the tag of being the oldest breeding big cat in the world.
The MP forest department relocated a five year-old tigress from Kanha, where she was in an enclosure with her two brothers since 2006 after death of their mother, to Central Indian tiger reserve, Panna, about 200 kms away.
“When we spotted the three cubs we thought whether they would be able to return back into the wild or not,” said MP’s Chief Wildlife Warden B S Pabla.
The thought laid the foundation of a unique experiment. An enclosed wildlife area was set up for the cubs to grow in a forest habitat under supervision of experienced foresters. About three years ago they were allowed to hunt the prey released in the enclosure like other tigers. “The tigress did well but the tigers didn’t,” Pabla said.
The male tigers were sent to Bhopal zoo and the tigress returned to freedom in Panna forests, better known for its diamonds. A week in the wild has been tough for her but she is doing well. “She has started hunting like any other tiger born and brought up in the wild,” said forest department official.
The other tigress about 500 kms in west in Ranthambore in Rajasthan is in the global reckoning for altogether different reason. Being the oldest breeding tigress in the world and still occupying the core area of ’s oldest tiger reserves among the notified 39 big cat homes.
“It is unusual that a tigress of her age is still breeding and is hale and hearty,” said R N Mehrotra, Rajasthan’s Chief Wildlife Warden. A tigress normally breeds till an age of 12 or13.
The tigress had seen a lot in Ranthambore where in the last 15 years the tiger population has dwindled to less than a dozen from 35. As per the latest estimation, there number is close to 30. “Her story is also that of the Indian tigers,” said Qamar Qureshi, a Wildlife Institute of India’s scientist, after releasing the new estimation of 1,706 tigers in India.