(NEW HOME: This camera trap picture shows T 8, the first tigress to litter in Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary adjoining Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan, along with her cubs.)
JAIPUR: A hitherto little noticed Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary has crowned itself with glory in the annals of tiger conservation in the post-Project Tiger era in the country by playing host to a new tiger family. The comparatively small — just 250 sq km — sanctuary, situated south of the much more famous Ranthambhore National Park (RNP), now takes the cake for the third known breeding ground for tigers in the wild in Rajasthan after RNP and Sariska Tiger Reserve.
Tigress T 8 was sighted with two cubs this weekend at Chiri Kho along Sawai Madhopur-Bundi Road. The feline, a migrant from RNP, has been staying in Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary -- not known to be a place favoured by tigers so far– for two to three years. “It is a breakthrough. Tiger breeding is crucial indication both in terms of habitat improvement and prey base. It is the result of good management practices,” said a jubilant Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, R. N. Mehrotra, talking to The Hindu on Monday.
“Breeding takes place at very few places in India. A new area in tiger breeding is a very positive sign, especially when it happens outside the Project Tiger area,” said Rajpal Singh, Member of the Rajasthan Board for Wildlife. “Good tiger breeding is taking place in Rajasthan despite prophets of doom who had predicted some time back that Ranthambhore would not have tiger cubs as the atmosphere was not conducive for breeding,” he pointed out.
“This has come as very encouraging news as we have been busy shifting forest villages out of Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary to get it ready for the proposed Rajiv Gandhi Biosphere Reserve,” Mr. Mehrotra informed. The inhabitants of two villages, Hingdwar and Kalibhat, are in the process of moving out of the area. “The birth of cubs in the new area is also indicative that the degraded forests hold good potential. These forests can bring back the life cycle which existed earlier,” he asserted.
The areas south of Ranthambhore showing a clear indication of regeneration of flora and fauna is also a sure sign that the present experiments are in the right direction. Though the report of an expert team which conducted a survey on the proposed biosphere reserve is to be ready only by May 15, the tribe of tigers flourishing beyond Ranthambhore is opening up a lot of probabilities in conservation initiatives in the Hadauti (Kota) region.
“The Ranthambhore tigers have reached the doorstep of Lakheri forests. In a year or two we will be regenerating Bundi forests as well,” a confidant Mr. Mehrotra affirmed. “As for the Rajiv Gandhi Biosphere Reserve, it will encompass an area of 2,000-2,500 sq km from Karauli to Jhalawar,” he said.
As for the frolicking young tigers, Rajasthan will have more of them. “Rajasthan now has about 16-17 tiger cubs — the maximum number in any State. I am sure there will be more in the next three months,” Mr. Rajpal Singh said predicting a cat population explosion in the near future.